Our neurosurgeons have extensive training to surgically treat patients with a variety of acute, subacute and chronic conditions. Some of these conditions may form as an individual ages and can cause pain or weakness in the neck or back that affects daily activities. Some conditions, such as tumors, may cause sudden and unfamiliar symptoms. And other conditions may be the result of trauma and will require immediate surgical intervention.
Here are some of the disorders and medical conditions of the brain, neck and spine that our neurosurgeons at UM BWMC treat:
Conditions of the Brain
- Bleeding can occur in the brain when an artery in the brain bursts and causes localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. This is also called a brain hemorrhage, and it kills brain cells, so it’s imperative to treat immediately. Head trauma/injury is a common cause of bleeding in the brain.
- Blood clots can form in the brain as a result of head trauma, travelling clots from other parts of the body, hardening or narrowing of the arteries, or inflammation of a superficial vein. A blood clot in the brain can cause an Ischemic stroke, a stroke caused when an artery to the brain becomes blocked and starves the brain of oxygen and nutrients.
- Hydrocephalus, also called water on the brain, is a build-up of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. Normally this cerebrospinal fluid cushions the brain; however excess fluid puts harmful pressure on the brain. Hydrocephalus can be present at birth due to genetic or fetal development problems, or it can form at a later age due to trauma, stroke, infection, tumors or brain bleeds.
- Infection, inflammation and pressure swelling can occur in the brain as a result of other injuries or disorders.
Brain and Spine Tumors
Tumors are abnormal growths of cells, but not all tumors that occur on the brain or spine are cancerous. Benign tumors are growths that do not usually invade nearby tissue or spread to other areas of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous, and they can grow aggressively, by taking the space, blood and nutrients away from healthy cells. They can also spread to other parts of the body. In general, a benign tumor is less serious than a malignant tumor. But a benign tumor can still cause many problems by pressing on nearby tissues.
- Primary brain tumors are tumors that originate in the brain when a cell mutates and multiplies in abnormal ways to form a mass. These tumors can include gliomas (forms on the gluey supportive cells that surround nerve cells on the brain and spinal cord); meningiomas (forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull); and vestibular schwannomas (forms on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain).
- Metastatic brain tumors are made of cancerous cells from a tumor that originated in a different part of the body. The cells spread to the brain from the other tumor in a process called metastasis.
- A paraganglioma is a neuroendocrine neoplasm that can develop at the head or neck in the paraganglia, which are bundles of cells of the peripheral nervous system, outside the brain and spinal cord.
- A hemangioma is a vascular brain tumor that typically develops in the cerebellum, at the back of the brain. It is a noncancerous tumor that’s caused by an excess growth of blood vessels in the brain or spinal cord.
- Pituitary tumors are mass growths in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain and regulates hormones in the body. Because of the pituitary gland’s location, neurosurgeons work with endocrinologists and ophthalmologists if needed to discuss the best treatment plan. Treatment could entail surgery and surveillance follow-up, or the tumor may be able to be medically treated with prescriptions and surveillance follow-up.
- A spinal tumor is a growth that develops within the spinal canal or within the bones of the spine. It may be cancerous or noncancerous.
- Spina bifida is a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Surgery can close the defect.
- Myelomeningocele neck is a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. The condition is a type of spina bifida.
- A herniated disc is a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) that rest between your spine vertebrae. A spinal disc has a soft center with a tough exterior, and sometimes the soft center can push through a crack in the exterior, causing irritation to nearby nerves and pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg.
- Degenerative disease can include several spinal disorders, including cervical spondylosis (age-related deterioration affecting the spinal discs in your neck) and lumbar spondylosis (occurring in the lower spine). Spinal stenosis is also a common condition caused by age-related wear and tear and occurs in the neck and lower back. It is the narrowing of spaces in the backbone, and it can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.