Orthopedic Spine Surgeon versus Neurosurgeon
What’s the difference?
This is a common question I get asked.
Historically, starting back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, orthopedic spine surgeons performed fusions and corrected spinal deformities, and the neurosurgeons performed the nerve decompressions and removed spinal tumors. However, over the last several decades, the lines have blurred and both types of spinal surgeons now perform the same types of surgeries.
Nowadays, neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons attend the same spine conferences, use the same spine textbooks, and train under the same experts. In many of their minds, they are all simply spine surgeons. Bottom line, if a spine surgeon is a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, they should have the appropriate training to perform spine surgery.
Training wise, in addition to training in spine surgery, orthopedic spine surgeons complete an orthopedic surgery residency and as such, are also experts in the diagnosis and treatment of nerve, muscle, and joint problems in all parts of the body. This is an important skill, as extremity-related issues can be confused for a pinched nerve in the spine (i.e. sciatica, or radiculopathy). Neurosurgeons complete a neurological surgery residency and as such, are also experts in brain-related issues. That being said, not all orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons perform spine surgery.
Ultimately, as a double-fellowship trained orthopedic spinal surgeon, Dr. Chung has extensively trained with both world renowned neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons throughout his training. As such, he brings the best of both worlds when providing spine care for you.