If you or someone you love has a neurological condition, you’re not alone. Early diagnosis of a neurological condition gives you, or your loved one, the best chance of receiving treatment. And a greater general knowledge can help ease some of the stress.

The team at Healthscope thought it’d be helpful to answer the top eight questions people ask about our neurosurgery services.

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1. What is a neurosurgeon?

Neurosurgeons play a crucial role in providing specialised surgical treatment for patients with neurological conditions. They are highly trained medical doctors with expertise in diagnosing and treating disorders related to the brain, spine, spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels of the brain and spinal cord.

When patients experience neurological symptoms, a referral to a neurosurgeon is often made to determine whether surgery could be a suitable treatment option. The primary objective of the neurosurgeon is to assess whether there is a structural issue contributing to the patient's symptoms that may be amenable to surgical correction.

We understand that seeking specialised medical care can be overwhelming, but rest assured that our team of experienced neurosurgeons is here to provide you with the best possible care. We prioritise your well-being and are committed to utilising our expertise to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

2. What are some signs that I should see a neurosurgeon?

Experiencing any neurological symptoms can be concerning, but it's important to remember that there are various factors that could contribute to these issues. If you're facing severe or persistent neurological symptoms such as nerve pain (e.g., sciatica), altered sensation in a particular area of your body (like tingling, pins and needles, or numbness), weakness, or loss of bodily functions, it's essential to seek proper medical evaluation.

We recommend reaching out to your General Practitioner (GP) as the first step. They will be able to assess your symptoms and determine the most appropriate specialist to address your needs. Remember, there are instances where these symptoms may be associated with other conditions that may not necessarily require the expertise of a neurosurgeon. Your GP will help guide you in finding the right specialist who can provide the best care for your specific situation.

At the end of the day, your well-being is our top priority. By consulting with your GP and seeking appropriate medical attention, you'll be taking the necessary steps towards finding relief and receiving the specialised care you need.

3. Will a neurosurgeon always recommend surgery?

Surgery is recommended when your symptoms are severe or disabling, significantly affecting your daily life. Additionally, for surgery to be considered, there should be a clear structural abnormality identified through test results that can be effectively addressed and corrected through surgical intervention.

In cases where you're experiencing pain, the decision to undergo surgery is ultimately up to you. You get to decide if your symptoms are bothersome enough to opt for surgery. It's a personal choice based on how much your symptoms affect you and your quality of life.

However, if surgery is deemed clinically urgent, such as for conditions that are malignant (cancerous) or causing severe symptoms like paralysis, the surgeon will discuss the urgency with you and explain why surgery is necessary.

We understand that this decision can be overwhelming. Rest assured, we will thoroughly assess your situation, consider your symptoms and preferences, and have open and honest discussions with you. Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision that aligns with your well-being.

4. Is surgery my only option or can I try other treatment?

During your consultation, the surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about any other measures or treatments you may have already tried to alleviate your symptoms. They will consider your previous treatment experiences and explore alternative options that may provide relief.

In cases of pain conditions, surgery is typically offered as a last resort when other treatments have been attempted but haven't provided sufficient relief. The surgeon will carefully evaluate your individual situation and recommend surgery only if they believe it is the best course of action after considering all available treatment options.

Our aim is to ensure that you receive the most appropriate and effective care for your condition. We understand the importance of exploring all possible avenues before considering surgery, and we will work closely with you to find the best solution for your specific needs and circumstances.

5. What can I do to improve the likelihood of my surgery being successful?

Before undergoing surgery, making certain lifestyle changes can greatly contribute to improving your overall outcome and minimising the risk of complications. These changes encompass various aspects of your well-being and are beneficial for your overall health. Here are some recommended lifestyle adjustments:

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Striving for a healthy weight can positively impact your surgical outcome. It can help reduce the strain on your body and promote optimal healing.

Optimise Nutrition: Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is crucial for your body's ability to heal and recover after surgery. Ensure you're getting an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Reduce or Eliminate Smoking and Alcohol Intake: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can impair your body's healing processes and increase the risk of complications. Minimising or avoiding these substances altogether is strongly advised.

Increase Strength and Mobility through Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular exercise can enhance your strength, mobility, and overall fitness levels. It can help prepare your body for surgery and aid in post-operative recovery.

Manage Existing Medical Conditions: If you have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, depression, or anxiety, it's crucial to effectively manage and control them prior to surgery. This may involve working closely with your healthcare team to ensure your conditions are well-managed.

By implementing these lifestyle changes before surgery, you can significantly contribute to a smoother recovery and reduce the risk of potential complications. It's always advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for personalised guidance and recommendations based on your specific circumstances.

6. Will I be given instructions on what to do after surgery?

After your surgery, you will receive detailed instructions from the surgeon regarding post-operative care and what to expect during the recovery process. These instructions are tailored to your specific procedure and individual needs. They will provide guidance on various aspects, including:

Activity and Rest: You will be advised on how to gradually resume daily activities, including work, exercise, and other physical tasks, based on the type of surgery you undergo.

Wound Care: Instructions on how to care for your surgical incision or wounds, including dressing changes, hygiene practices, and signs of infection to watch out for, will be provided.

Medications: You will be informed about any prescribed medications, including pain management strategies, antibiotics (if necessary), and how to take them as directed.

Follow-up Appointments: Information about scheduled follow-up appointments with the surgeon or healthcare team will be provided. These appointments are important to monitor your progress and address any concerns or questions you may have.

Recovery Timeline and Expectations: You will receive an overview of the expected recovery timeline and what you can anticipate during different stages of the healing process.

Lifestyle Recommendations: Specific lifestyle instructions may be given to optimise your recovery, such as dietary guidelines, physical therapy exercises, and recommendations for managing any pre-existing medical conditions.

It's important to remember that every surgical procedure and individual recovery process is unique. Therefore, if you have any specific questions or concerns about your surgery or post-operative recovery, don't hesitate to ask the surgeon. They will provide you with the necessary information and address any uncertainties you may have.

Your comfort, well-being, and successful recovery are the top priorities, and the instructions and guidance provided by the surgical team aim to support you throughout the entire process.

7. What questions should I ask if my specialist / doctors recommends surgery?

When considering surgery based on a specialist or doctor's recommendation, it's important to ask relevant questions to gather information and make an informed decision. Here are some key questions to consider:

What are the risks and benefits of this surgery? Understanding the potential risks, complications, and benefits associated with the procedure will help you weigh the potential outcomes.

What might happen if I don't have surgery? Inquire about the natural progression of your condition if left untreated and the potential implications it may have on your health and quality of life.

Are there any alternative treatment options? Ask about non-surgical alternatives, such as medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, or other interventions that may help manage your condition.

How experienced are you in performing this specific surgery? Ask about the surgeon's experience with the procedure. Ask about their success rates, complications, and outcomes to gain confidence in their expertise.

Can I have access to any relevant research or speak to another patient who has had this surgery in the past? Request information on any relevant studies, research, or patient experiences that may provide additional insights into the procedure's effectiveness and patient satisfaction.

Should I seek a second opinion? It's perfectly acceptable and encouraged to seek a second opinion from another qualified specialist to ensure that the proposed treatment plan is appropriate and in your best interest.

Remember, open and honest communication with your specialist or doctor is crucial. Don't hesitate to ask any additional questions or seek clarification on any concerns you may have. This will help you make an informed decision about whether to proceed with surgery.

8. How do I get a referral to a neurosurgeon?

If you're experiencing symptoms of a neurological condition, it is advisable to consult your GP first. They will assess your symptoms and determine whether a referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon is necessary for further investigation and treatment.

To initiate your treatment with our team of experienced neurological specialists, simply request a referral from your GP. You can let your GP know that you would like to be referred to one of our specialists specifically, or they can address the referral as "Dear Doctor".

To find a neurosurgeon near you, you can visit our specialist directory by following this link <insert link to specialist directory>. It will help you locate specialists in your area who can provide the specialised care you require.

Remember, seeking a referral from your GP is an important initial step in accessing the appropriate care for your neurological concerns. Our team is dedicated to assisting you throughout your treatment journey, and we look forward to providing you with the specialised care you need.


Information provided and reviewed by Dr Justin Pik, Neurosurgeon at National Capital Private Hospital.

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