Neurosurgeons diagnose, assess and perform surgery to treat disorders of the nervous system. They operate on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system which can involve any area of the body.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

picture of a surgeon

Nature of the work

Neurosurgeons may work with patients of all ages from premature babies to elderly people. Some conditions are immediately life-threatening although chronic debilitating conditions are also treated.

Neurosurgery is a very challenging surgical specialty where techniques and technologies are constantly developing. Minimally-invasive procedures using surgical microscopes and endoscopes are increasingly used which achieve comparable or better results than open surgery. The benefits to the patient include less pain, faster recover time and minimal scarring.

Here are some examples of the main types of conditions that neurosurgeons treat:

“Outpatients work is very interesting and is often about helping patients come to term with changes in their life after brain or spinal injury”. Helen Fernandes, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

Read Helen’s story

Common procedures/interventions

Neurosurgeons also use highly advanced imaging procedures, for example to look at the function of the brain around a tumour. This helps the surgeon to examine the tumour’s boundaries and to see if it is actively dividing. Neurosurgeons work very closely with radiologists and use a range of diagnostic tools including CT and MRI scans and other techniques such as brain angiography.


The main sub-specialties of neurosurgery are:

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