Division of Neurosurgery   
Phone: 217-545-8000
FAX: 217-545-0253 
Email: neurosurgery@siumed.edu 
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is neurosurgery?

A neurosurgeon quite simply is a doctor that uses his or her hands to directly treat conditions that cause disability, pain or threaten to shorten the life of a patient by causing dysfunction of the brain or spine.

Who is a neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon is someone who has spent ten years after high school studying medicine and surgery in medical school (four years) and then treating patients under the guidance of professors in a residency program (six or more years) to become an independent practitioner of neurosurgery. There are about 3,000 neurosurgeons in the US treating a population of 300 million so one person per 100,000 US citizens is a neurosurgeon.

What do neurosurgeons treat?

If we start in the center of the head we find the pituitary gland which is in the very center of the head behind the eyes and between the ears. They treat tumors that occur in the pituitary gland.

What is the pituitary gland?

The pituitary gland is the hormone center of the brain and is connected to the most ancient part of it.  The pituitary gland regulates our body temperature, water balance, metabolism and monthly reproductive cycles. 

What are the dangers from these tumors?

Tumors in this region can over produce hormones wreaking havoc with the patient’s body and mind. Further out from the center of the brain, tumors can arise from the brain itself causing weakness, headache, seizures and personality changes.  Outside of the brain itself, the thin covering of the brain can grow out of control sometimes as large as an orange pushing on the surrounding brain. The cranial nerves exiting the brain can also develop tumors that compress the neighboring nerves causing dysfunction that develops slowly over time. Tumors can also cause problems for the spinal cord. It is only a half-inch in diameter, but it connects the brain to everything from the neck down.  Tumors can also compress the spinal cord. The nerves that exit the spinal cord can be compressed by the intervertebral discs in the neck or back leading to pain or weakness in the arms and legs.