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Patient Information

What training does a neurosurgeon have?

A Neurosurgeon, often referred to as a brain surgeon, is specialist surgeon who treats conditions and diseases related to the brain, spine and nervous system.

The undergraduate qualification required to be eligible to apply for training in neurosurgery in Australia and New Zealand is a recognised medical degree identified by the Australian Medical Council or the Medical Council of New Zealand. In Australia and New Zealand this includes completion of a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or MB ChB) which is usually a six year undergraduate degree.

Once a doctor has an undergraduate qualification which allows them to practice as a medical practitioner in Australia and New Zealand they then need to undertake further postgraduate training in neurosurgery before they can practice as an independent specialist neurosurgeon. The Australian and New Zealand postgraduate qualification required to register and practice as an independent specialist neurosurgeon is the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in Neurosurgery. The Surgical Education and Training Program in Neurosurgery, delivered by Neurosurgical Society of Australasia as an agent of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, is the specialist training program which results in awarding of the FRACS.

Some international medical graduates who do not have the FRACS in Neurosurgery may also register and practice as an independent specialist neurosurgeon in Australia and New Zealand. Further information on the registration of international medical graduates can be found on the websites of the Medical Board of Australia and the Medical Council of New Zealand.

What procedures are performed by neurosurgeons?

Neurosurgeons perform the full range of procedures on the head, spine and peripheral nerves. Examples of some of the procedures performed by neurosurgeons include:

  • Traumatic haematomas
  • Craniotomies for brain tumours
  • Cerebral Aneurysms
  • Spinal Disc Arthroplasty
  • Spinal Discectomies
  • Spinal tumours
  • Laminectomy and Laminoplasty for Canal Stenosis
  • Spinal Fusions
  • Shunt Procedures
  • Tethered Spinal Cord
  • Brachial Plexus Exploration
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Nerve Repair
  • Neurectomy

What conditions are treated by neurosurgeons?

Examples of some of the conditions treated by neurosurgeons include:

  • Head trauma
  • Spinal trauma
  • Brain tumours
  • Spinal tumours and vascular lesions
  • Degenerative spine disorders
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Malignant gliomas
  • Benign meningiomas
  • Metastatic lesions
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peripheral nerve damage
  • Epilepsy

Patient Information Brochures

The Neurosurgical Society of Australasia is currently in the process of developing detailed patient information brochures for neurosurgical procedures. As the brochures are complete a one page summary will be available here. The more detailed versions, are available to surgeons and may be provided by your surgeon during your consultation.

Lumbar Spine Discectomy
Lumbar Spine Laminectomy
Pituitary Surgery
Peripheral Nerve Surgery
Cervical Discectomy
Cervical Laminectomy

Additional resources are also available on our publications page .

Referrals & advice

Your neurosurgeon is committed to providing you with the best treatment for your condition. In the first instance, you may need to see your family doctor to be referred to a neurosurgeon.

Once you see your neurosurgeon, they will be able to provide you with further information about your diagnosis, treatment alternatives and the course of care, especially expectations for surgical outcomes. Ask questions, discuss the risks of the course of treatment including complications and seek further clarification when you are unsure. It is important that you share all relevant information with your neurosurgeon.

The Neurosurgical Society of Australasia is a professional not for profit organisation established to study and advance the art and science of neurosurgery and research into the cause, prevention and cure of diseases in the field of neurosurgery. The Neurosurgical Society of Australasia cannot provide medical advice, a second opinion or referrals to neurosurgeons.

All Neurosurgical Society of Australasia members who are neurosurgeons have the option of registering in our online find a surgeon function.

Click here to access our Find a Neurosurgeon function