NEUROSURGEON

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What is a NeuroSurgeon?

A neurosurgeon diagnoses and treats disorders that affect the body’s nervous system. This complex network of the body comprises two smaller systems:

  • Central nervous system—the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding skull and spine
  • Peripheral nervous system—the cranial and spinal nerves outside the central nervous system

The nervous system serves as a sort of messenger service to the rest of the body, including hands, arms, feet, legs, and all the sensory organs. The communication the nervous system sends out controls all of one’s basic body functions: speaking, breathing, swallowing, walking, and learning. The nervous system also manages how our body responds to emergencies and threatening situations. 

What Conditions Do Neurosurgeons Treat?

A neurosurgeon works on conditions and injuries that affect the nervous system. Since it’s such an intricate network responsible for all the movements that a human body performs, a neurosurgeon must be particularly trained to operate with utmost precision and care on the nervous system.

The health issues a neurosurgeon diagnose and treat include:

  • Strokes and aneurysms
  • Injuries to the head, neck and spinal cord
  • Tumors and cysts
  • Spinal conditions, including herniated discs, vertebral fractures, scoliosis, sciatica, osteoarthritis, tethered spinal cord syndrome, spina bifida, lumbar spinal stenosis, spinal infections, and more
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Hydrocephalus

As a fully certified clinic of neurosurgeons in Colorado, BNA’s doctors comprise some of the top neurosurgeons in Denver and Boulder are deeply experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of the most troubling conditions affecting the nervous system. 

What Procedures do Neurosurgeon Perform?

A neurosurgeon performs medical procedures to treat or repair conditions of the nervous system, blood flow to the brain, and other operations, including:

  • Surgery on spine, cervical spine, skull, pituitary, peripheral nerves
  • Coiling and microsurgical repair of aneurysms
  • Microvascular decompression
  • Excision of brain tumors
  • Embolization procedures

A neurosurgeon is also actively involved in helping patients prevent conditions that affect the nervous system. They also help rehabilitate and treat patients who have undergone brain or spinal surgery. BNA’s medical staff are among the most accomplished neurosurgeons in Boulder and Denver for both minimally invasive and more major operations to repair spinal afflictions.

What is the Education and Experience of a Neurosurgeon?

Since the areas of the human body a neurosurgeon oversees is so complex and crucial, the training and experience they get are time-intensive and extensive. The education and career path of a neurosurgeon typically include:

  • Four years of pre-med at a college or university
  • Four years of medical school to obtain an MD or OD degree
  • One year of post-graduate internship
  • Five to seven years of residency at a hospital or brain clinic

Neurosurgeons also participate in fellowships and medical conferences to maintain their knowledge of the latest, most effective treatments for the disorders they manage. BNA’s doctors are fully approved and certified from accredited neurosurgical associations, and their combined accomplishments in research, publication, and education rank them amongst some of the most expert neurosurgeons in Colorado.

When should you see a neurosurgeon?

Most of the time, a patient is referred to a specialist by their primary care provider, or whoever they would normally see in cases of pain, discomfort, or other symptoms. A general practitioner may refer their patient to a neurosurgeon if they can’t readily treat conditions like back or neck pain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, concussions, brain trauma, or other symptoms. A neurologist may also send a client to a neurosurgeon for more advanced treatment.

Being sent to a neurosurgeon doesn’t necessarily mean you need surgery. Many neurosurgeons prefer to prescribe conservative, non-invasive treatments for patients experiencing typical back or neck pain. More often than not, a patient will not advance to surgery, especially if physical therapy, prescribed medications, exercise, or other non-surgical practices are successful.

Only if a patient’s condition fails to improve, gets worse, or threatens to jeopardize their health should more invasive surgery be required.

Meet the staff at Boulder Neurological & Spine Associates

Our staff of specialists includes some of the most experienced, educated, and compassionate neurosurgeons in Colorado, covering both neurosurgical and orthopedic spine conditions. BNA’s physicians focus on minimally invasive procedures and bring a multidisciplinary approach to the back, neck, and spinal conditions they diagnose and manage.

 

Alan T. Villavicencio, MD

Dr. Villavicencio is a senior managing partner and Director of Research and Development at Boulder Neurosurgical & Spine Associates. He’s a graduate of Harvard Medical School and served his residency at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Dr. Villavicencio is one of only a very few American surgeons with dual neurosurgery and orthopedic spine training, with deep experience in minor and major reconstructive spine surgery. He also treats scoliosis, spinal deformities, and brain disorders, and performs as many as 500 operations in a single year. Dr. Villavicencio also serves as chairman of the Justin Parker Neurological Institute, a non-profit he co-founded in 2003 dedicated to curing brain and spine conditions through innovative technology.

Specialties:

  • Minimally Invasive and Complex Spine Surgery
  • Brain Disorders
  • Scoliosis Surgery

Lee Nelson, MD

Dr. Nelson has been a part of BNA since 2004. His areas of clinical interest include neurosurgical oncology and complex spinal surgery, focusing on minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Nelson graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. As a trailblazer in advanced neurosurgical tech, Dr. Nelson was deeply involved in bringing intraoperative imaging systems to Colorado and helped make BNA was the first state clinic to use the O-ARM and PoleStar N-20 Intraoperative MRI systems, and only the second U.S. clinic to use them in operations. Dr. Nelson is a consultant for a neuromodulation company and has won multiple international awards for his research and contributions to the field of neurosurgery.

Specialties:

  • Minimally Invasive and Complex Spine Surgery
  • Brain Disorders
  • Pituitary Tumor Surgery
  • Neurosurgical Oncology

Sharad Rajpal, MD

Dr. Rajpal focuses on spinal and general neurosurgery at BNA. He graduated from and served his residency at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Rajpal was the youngest neurosurgical resident to receive the Resident Academic Achievement Award, which he won twice. Dr. Rajpal is dedicated to the advancement and development of new spinal technologies and teaches these cutting-edge surgical techniques to colleagues worldwide. An award-winning researcher, Dr. Rajpal has delivered more than 100 presentations at international science conferences and authored over 35 publications. He’s also an esteemed international educator, having taught over 1600 neurosurgeons from more than 25 countries, and over 750 doctors and nurses. Dr. Rajpal is committed to the development of new spinal technologies and techniques.

Specialties:

  • Minimally Invasive and Complex Spine Surgery
  • Brain Disorders
  • Brain Tumor Surgery
  • Neurosurgical Oncology

Kara Beasley, DO

Dr. Beasley is one of the few dually credentialed neurosurgeons and bioethicists in the world. She obtained her degree and a Master of Arts from Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ, and further trained and served a fellowship at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. Her concentrations as a neurosurgeon include cranial and spinal trauma, endoscopic and open tumor surgery, radiosurgery, complex spine disorders, degenerative spinal disease, epilepsy surgery, and neuromodulation. Among her many awards for research and writing is her selection as one of Becker’s Spine Review’s Top 34 Trailblazing Female Spine Surgeons.

Specialties:

  • Minimally Invasive and Complex Spine Surgery
  • Brain Disorders
  • Deep Brain Stimulation for Movement Disorders
  • Neuromodulation for Refractory Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy Surgical Treatment

 

Sigita Burneikiene, MD

Dr. Burneikiene graduated from Vilnius University in Lithuania with a Medical Degree in 1986. After completing her training, Dr. Burneikiene served as a clinical neurophysiologist and conducted research at Vilnius University Emergency Hospital. She came to the United States and joined Boulder Neurosurgical & Spine Associates in 2003, where she serves as Director of Clinical Research at the Justin Parker Neurological Institute. 

John K Dorman, MD

Dr. John K Dorman, MD specializes in neurosurgery and has over 26 years of experience in the field of medicine. He graduated from the University Of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with his medical degree in 1994. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Dorman completed his general surgery internship in Norfolk, Virginia as well as a two-year fellowship in pediatric intensive care in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Dorman completed his neurosurgical residency at The University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Specialties:

  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Complex Spine Surgery
  • Brain Disorders
  • Brain Tumors

Kevin KH Chow, MD

Dr. Chow is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon. He completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, obtaining an M.D. as well as a Ph.D. in cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Chow then did his residency in neurological surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in California, with a subspecialty focus in neuro-oncology and skull base tumors.

Specialties:

  • Brain Disorders
  • Skull Base Tumors – open and endoscopic approaches
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Complex Spine Surgery