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Difference Between a Neurologist and a Neurosurgeon?
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Difference Between a Neurologist and a Neurosurgeon?

  I'm a law student currently learning how to draft advance medical directives (AMD - also known as living wills).  I've been studying a sample directive as part of a class.  I've not yet had the opportunity to ask about the follwoing topic, so I'm hoping to get the medical point of view from a kind soul on this board.  In one particular article (provision) concerning directives in case of END STAGE DEMENTIA, the Declarant (the person whom the living will affects) directs an attending physician AND either 1) a board certified psychiatrist, 2) a consulting neurologist, or 3) neuro-surgeon, to certify when and if the Declarant in fact suffers from an end-stage dementia as defined in another provision.  Upon such a certification certain decisions concerning the withholding of life support, or the prolonging of life take effect.  My question is this - what is the difference between a neurologist and a neuro-surgeon, other than perhaps one is a specialist in surgery and the other is not?  I'd like to gauge the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one or the other for purposes of assessing neurological disorders in a patient.
  Thank you in advance for your time and patience
  -Dean
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Dear Dean,
thank you for the question, yes you are correct, a neurosurgeon is a surgeon by training. One has to complete a 6 or 7 year of training after medical school to become a neurosurgeon. They later can subspecialize in spine surgery, brain tumor, skull base surgery, etc. For most part they only treat surgically treatable diseases.
A neurologist, is not a surgeon by training, they diagnose and treat a variety of neurological conditions such as epilepsy, brain tumor, troke, dementia, headache, back pain, etc. Some of these conditions can be treated surgically, hence we send them to our neurosurgeon colleagues. The training requires four years of post graduate internship and residency. After which, one may choose to subspecialize, dementia, epilepsy, neuromuscular diseases, stroke, movement disorders, etc.
Because the emphasis is somewhat different during our training, some conditions are better handled by one, less so than the other.
I hope that helps and good luck to you.





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