When considering spinal surgery, it can be confusing to determine if an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon is better suited to perform the surgery. Most people in the healthcare industry are also confused about the difference between orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons. In reality, when it comes to performing spinal surgeries, both neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons in Newport Beach may be considered.

Your choice between a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon for spine surgery can result in different surgical outcomes. Although both an orthopedic spine surgeon and a neurosurgeon can perform spinal surgeries, both fields still have a lot of differences. To clarify the characteristics of these distinct professions, this article discusses some of the similarities and differences between a neurosurgeon in Newport Beach and an orthopedic spine surgeon.

Neurosurgeon vs. Orthopedic Surgeon?

  • Training: The most notable difference between both fields is that neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons are trained in separate fields of medicine. The significant distinction between both fields will always boil down to specialized skill and the differences in training, even in situations where both specialties may overlap. Residents in neurosurgery undergo routine training in spine and brain procedures, with most of their residency period explicitly spent on spine procedures. After completing residency, some neurosurgeons may choose to complete an additional year of fellowship training to specialize in intricate or advanced spine surgery. The average length of a neurosurgery residency is 7-8 years. On the other hand, an orthopedic residency typically lasts for only five years and involves little to no training with spine surgery. Most orthopedic surgeons will undergo an extra year of fellowship training to compensate for the minimal exposure to spinal surgeries during their residency. Dual fellowship training is sometimes given to orthopedic surgeons, which usually only implies that the surgeon in question assisted neurosurgeons throughout the early stages of training. Only a select few candidates can be admitted for training in neurosurgery because they must learn the unique microsurgical skills necessary to operate on the spine and the brain. Compared to orthopedics trainees, neurosurgery residents gain more excellent practical surgical experience due to this selectivity. Simply put, the average resident in orthopedics has less surgical experience compared to the average resident in neurosurgery.
  • Specialized competence: Orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons have different specialist competencies and training and residency requirements. Neurosurgeons often specialize in complicated microsurgical treatments and minimally invasive spine surgery for disorders that damage the spinal nerves. In addition, only board-certified neurosurgeons are authorized to conduct any procedures inside the spinal dura mater (interior part of the spinal cord). Only neurosurgeons have the specialist training to diagnose and treat spinal malignancies, spinal fractures, symptomatic degenerative nerve disease, spinal stenosis, and other similar spinal disorders. On the other hand, scoliosis, kyphosis, and other spinal procedures that affect the pelvic region are typically treated more effectively by an orthopedic spine surgeon. The specialist knowledge of an orthopedic spine surgeon is focused on the bones and vertebrae of the spine. Although both orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons are qualified to carry out some relatively routine operations on the spine thanks to modern advancements in technology and education, neurosurgeons are most likely to have the level of specialized competence necessary to treat a variety of severe and challenging spinal conditions. This is especially true for ailments that directly endanger the neurological or cerebrovascular systems.

There are numerous things to take into account while choosing your spine surgeon. There isn’t a single, one-answer-fits-all solution that works in each circumstance. Nobody may also state that a single field is always the better option. In the end, many skilled orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons are competent and can carry out spine surgery.

But given the intricacy, difficulty, and importance of spinal surgery, it is highly recommended that you get advice from a certified neurosurgeon during your search. As discussed above, neurosurgeons typically have the best education, practical experience, and specialized training when performing spinal procedures.

Get in touch with Brain Spine MD today to learn more about neurosurgery and orthopedic spine surgery.