In some areas of surgery, the skills and knowledge of neurological and orthopedic surgeons are similar. The biggest difference between the two revolves around surgeries that involve the spine. Learn to distinguish the difference between the two specialties.
Neurosurgeons Training Focuses on the Entire Nervous System
Neurosurgeons typically require four years of college, four years of medical school and at least six years of residency. Their education encompasses disease and injury that revolve around the peripheral and central nervous systems including the brain, nerves, skull, spinal cord and spinal column. Neurosurgeons receive board certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
Orthopedic Surgeons Education Targets the Musculoskeletal System
Orthopedic surgeons training revolve around the musculoskeletal system including disease or injury of the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, nerves and muscles. Education consists of four years of college, four years of medical school and approximately five years of residency. Orthopedic surgeons earn board certification from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.
Primary Difference between Neurosurgeons and Orthopedic Surgeons
All parts of the human body links together in one way or another, which often makes one specialty overlap another. Surgeons in both fields competently perform many of the same treatments and surgeries. The major difference is that neurosurgeons are the only ones qualified to perform medical procedures inside the lining of the spinal cord. Injuries or disease inside the spinal cord requires consulting a neurological surgeon to obtain treatment.
Fellowships are Often Earned by Neurosurgeons and Orthopedic Surgeons
Fellowships require additional advanced training to specialize in specific areas of the nervous system or musculoskeletal system. Neurosurgeons may specialize in brain issues and orthopedic surgeons may special in sports injuries.
Required Training for Both Orthopedic Surgeons and Neurosurgeons
The first spinal disc surgery done included a neurological surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon. Today, most training is so similar that it is rare for the two to perform a procedure together. Orthopedic surgeons train to perform some of the same surgeries as a neurosurgeon and visa versa. The Scoliosis Research Society, the North American Spine Society and the Cervical Spine Research Society offer memberships to physicians in both fields.
Patients Should Obtain the Correct Referral from their Primary Physician
It is sometimes difficult for people to decide whether their condition requires consulting a neurological surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. The primary physician for people suffering from disorders of the nervous or musculoskeletal system is in the best position to make a referral to a specialist.
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