Sierra Neurosurgery Nevada For Patients guides and information


What is Neurosurgery?

Most people think of neurosurgeons as brain surgeons. However, neurosurgeons are medical specialists who diagnose and treat disorders of the entire nervous system – brain, spinal cord, skull and the spine (bony vertebral column. Of course, they operate on the brain, but they actually spend nearly 70 percent of their time helping patients with spine and peripheral nerve problems, providing surgical and nonsurgical care.

Do I need surgery if I am being referred to a neurosurgeon?

Not necessarily. Your referring physician most likely believes that you have a disease or disorder which would benefit from diagnoses and treatment by a neurosurgeon. The decision whether or not to recommend surgery is a complex one best handled by your neurosurgeon and his team.

What is the difference between an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon?

Each of these surgical specialists has their own areas of expertise and their skill and expertise overlap in the area of spinal surgery. Both specialties require 5-7 years of residency training, followed in some cases by additional time in fellowship training. Traditionally, neurosurgeons handled spinal operations dealing with the discs and nerves, while orthopedic surgeons handled operations on the bony spine, such as spinal fusion. More recently, though, both specialties are training their spinal surgeons to perform the whole range of spinal surgery. As neurosurgeons, we still work very closely with our orthopedic colleagues. A surgeon’s experience, training, and judgement in spinal surgery are more important than the subspecialty to which he or she belongs.

How do I make an appointment with Sierra Neurosurgery Group?

Call the main number at (775) 323-2080 or toll free (888) 323-2080, if your insurance requires a referral contact your primary care physician and request a referral.

What is the difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon?

A neurologist and a neurosurgeon are similar to a cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon: the neurosurgeon can offer a surgical solution to neurologic disorders, while the neurologist identifies neurological disorders through diagnostic testing and uses solely medical means to treat them.

Why choose a neurosurgeon?

While neurosurgeons perform brain surgery, they also provide the highest level of expertise in spine disorder treatment. The majority of operations performed by neurosurgeons are spine surgeries. Physicians who graduate from a neurosurgery program have usually assisted with hundreds of spine procedures. For those who go on to complete a post-graduate fellowship, they undergo a focused and intense training on the spine for an additional one to two years.

Neurosurgeons are exclusively trained to perform procedures on the entire spine, including the spinal cord and the inside lining of the spinal canal. With the spine encasing the spinal cord and nerves, many patients choose to take the extra measure of safety when undergoing spine treatment and choose a neurosurgeon.


  • Neurosurgeons complete more spinal surgery training than any other specialty.
  • Neurosurgeons are trained in treating diseases of the spine throughout a 7-year residency.
  • Neurosurgeons are the only physicians who treat the entire spine including the spinal cord.
  • Neurosurgeons spend about 80 percent of their time treating spine problems.

What does Board Certified mean?

Following residency training, neurosurgeons may seek certification in the practice of neurosurgery through the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS). Being a Board Certified Neurosurgeon, also called a Diplomate American Board of Neurolgical Surgery, is the highest level of neurosurgical qualification in this country.

This credential signals a special level of commitment to, and expertise in, the neurosurgical specialty. Certification by the ABNS is based upon approval of an applicant’s educational and training qualifications, a review of the physician’s professional practice- including opinions of his or her colleagues, and the passage of written and oral examinations that covers the diagnosis and management of surgical and medical diseases of the nervous system. The certification process includes a thorough assessment of the neurosurgeon’s skill, judgment and depth of knowledge. The successful completion of this process will result in board certification.

Certification by the ABNS – the only board authorized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify surgeons in neurosurgery – is considered the “gold standard” in the field. By choosing a neurosurgeon who is board certified by the ABNS or one who is tracking toward ABNS board certification, a patient can be assured that his or her doctor has a high level of commitment to, and expertise in, the neurosurgical specialty.

What does minimally invasive surgery mean?

With minimally invasive surgery techniques patients experience less trauma and pain due to very minimal disruption of the musculature. Compared to more traditional surgical techniques patients have minimal scarring because of very small incisions, faster recovery, shorter hospital stays and can return to pre-surgery activity levels much more quickly.

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