The brain is the seat of consciousness, reason, emotion, learning and skill - an awe-inspiring and complex region to which even the most advanced computer in the world cannot compare. Brain surgery is perhaps the oldest of the practiced medical arts.
Neurosurgeons perform operations on the spinal cord and peripheral nerves while brain specialists or surgeons (specialist neurosurgeons) treat abnormal conditions of the brain or perform surgery to remove either malignant or benign tumours (abnormal growths) from the brain. Tumours deep inside the brain cannot always be removed and have to be treated or shrunk with radiation or anti-tumour chemicals. Because the brain is enclosed in the rigid bony cranium, and there is little room for anything else there, abnormal growths cause pressure on the normal brain tissue. This can result in severe headaches, convulsions, paralysis, loss of sight or normal reflexes or the ability to move certain muscles.
Brain surgeons are required to perform procedures while coordinating and supervising the work of several nurses and other surgeons who work in teams during surgical operations.
Sometimes brain specialists have to remove foreign objects from the brain, such as after a shooting or a car accident. To pinpoint the problem, the brain surgeon will be required to interpret a PET scan, or CT (computer tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Brain surgery is intricate and delicate and must be done expertly and precisely. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that no further damage is done to the brain during the operation.
A high level of concentration and hand-eye coordination is required when brain surgeons utilise microsurgery techniques, which involves reliance on an operating microscope during the surgery.
Brain surgeons work in general hospitals, private hospitals or clinics, laboratories, medical schools or even out-of-doors at the scene of an accident. They are required to attend academic conferences and read medical journals to stay abreast of the latest research in the field of neurosurgery.