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Neurological Surgery — Conditions We Treat

The following conditions are some of the most common conditions treated by specialists in this area. These specialists offer expert care for many other related medical problems. If you need care for a condition not listed here, please call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to find a doctor who can help you.

  • An acoustic neuroma is a benign, often slow-growing tumor of the nerve that connects the ear and the brain. Also known as a vestibular schwannoma, the tumor can damage important nerves as it grows. This can affect hearing and balance.
  • Arteriovenous Malformation

    Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an incorrectly formed tangle of arteries and veins. Normally capillaries connect the body’s veins and arteries. In an AVM, the capillaries are missing. This disrupts the body’s normal blood circulation process. AVMs can occur anywhere in the body but are more common in the brain and spine.
  • The brain cancer team at Rush offers advanced, compassionate care for astrocytomas, a type of brain or spinal cord tumor.
  • The two types of back pain are acute, which typically occurs after a fall, injury or heavy lifting, and chronic, which persists for three months or longer.
  • A brain aneurysm, also known as a cerebral aneurysm, occurs when a weak spot in a blood vessel in the brain fills with blood, causing it to balloon or bulge out.
  • A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
  • The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the inside of the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the passageway, is squeezed or compressed by the surrounding tissue.
  • A Chiari malformation is a structural defect in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.
  • Chordoma is a rare cancerous tumor that is most commonly found at the base of the skull or spine.
  • In spite of its name, degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease. It refers to the natural process by which the intervertebral discs of the spine change as people age.
  • Dystonia is a chronic and often progressive neurological disorder that causes muscles to contract involuntarily.
  • Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells sometimes signal abnormally, often causing a seizure.
  • Failed Back Syndrome

    Failed back syndrome, or failed back surgery syndrome, is when a person’s condition does not improve after back or spine surgery. As a result, the person suffers from continued pain and is unable to get effective, lasting relief.
  • Glioma

    Glioma is a type of brain tumor that starts in the glial tissue of the brain. There are several types of gliomas, categorized by where they are found and the type of cells that originated the tumor, including the following: astrocytoma (which includes glioblastoma), oligodendroglioma, optic nerve glioma and ependymoma.
  • Head and neck tumors are those that grow in the nose, sinuses, mouth (oral cavity), throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), salivary glands, lymph nodes in the neck, thyroid gland or parathyroid glands. They can be cancerous or noncancerous (benign).
  • Headaches are the most common form of pain. Headache types include migraines and tension headaches.
  • Hemangiomas are abnormal masses, or tumors, that develop when blood vessels grow out of control. While rarely cancerous, brain and spine hemangiomas can sometimes bleed into surrounding tissue or grow big enough to weaken spinal bones. Brain and spine hemangioma symptoms When symptoms develop, they vary depending on the location of the tumor and may include the following:
  • A herniated disc occurs when part or all of a disc slips or ruptures between the vertebrae in your spinal column. For this reason, a herniated disc is also known as a “slipped disc” or a “ruptured disc.”
  • Hydrocephalus is the buildup of too much fluid in the brain, which creates pressure that can cause permanent brain damage — including physical and mental disabilities.
  • Intracerebral Hemorrhage

    Intracerebral hemorrhage is when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood leaks into the brain, causing extra pressure that can damage brain cells. High blood pressure is the most common cause, but intracerebral hemorrhage can also result from trauma, infection, tumors or blood vessel abnormalities (e.g., arteriovenous malformation).
  • Kyphosis

    Kyphosis is curving of the spine that eventually leads to a hunchbacked or slouching posture. When it occurs in adolescents, known as Scheuermann’s disease, the cause is the wedging together of several vertebrae. It is mostly found in adults, however, and can result from arthritis, disc degeneration, osteoporosis-related fractures, injury or spondylolisthesis. Certain diseases, including muscular dystrophy, Paget’s disease, spina bifida and polio, can also cause kyphosis.  
  • Medulloblastoma is a rare, malignant brain tumor most commonly found in people under 25 years old. It is a fast-growing tumor and can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the brain and spine.
  • A meningioma is a slow-growing, usually benign tumor that develops in the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can cause damage by pressing against the brain and causing problems with blood circulation.
  • Metastatic Brain Cancer

    Metastatic brain cancer is cancer that begins in another part of the body and then spreads (metastasizes) to the brain through the blood. Lung, breast and colon cancers frequently metastasize to the brain, as do certain skin cancers. Metastatic brain tumors may be quite aggressive.
  • Nasal and sinus cancers (also called paranasal sinus cancers) can affect your ability to breathe, and they grow near vital organs and nerves, including the brain and eyes. That's why it's important to enlist a team of experts who are experienced in treating these rare cancers.
  • Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that forms in the nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest or spinal cord. It most often affects children under the age of 5 and begins in the adrenal glands, located just above the kidneys.
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), also known as von Recklinghausen’s disease, is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that causes tumors to grow along nerves in the skin and nerves of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is a genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in the nervous system.
  • Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive movement disorder that affects the body's ability to control movement.
  • Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths of tissues (known as neoplasms) that grow in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small endocrine gland found at the base of your brain.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain

    Sacroiliac joint pain, also known as SI joint pain, is pain caused by damage to the sacroiliac joint, which connects the hip to the spine. It is a common cause of lower back pain.
  • Schwannoma is a slow-growing tumor stemming from the cells that protect the nerve fibers. These tumors can grow anywhere along the nerve system and usually not cancerous.
  • Sciatica occurs when there is damage to or pressure on the sciatic nerve, which causes nerve pain. The sciatic nerve starts in the low back and runs down the back or side of the leg.
  • Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine develops a side-to-side curve in an S- or C-shape. It can occur in both children and adults.
  • Sinus and skull base tumors, which can be cancerous or noncancerous (benign), grow in the area behind the eyes and nose that extends to the base of the skull. Even when these tumors are not cancerous, they can still cause problems as they grow and start to press against the brain, vital nerves or major blood vessels.
  • Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing can put pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, which can cause numbness, weakness or pain.
  • Spinal Tumors

    Spinal tumors develop within the spinal column, either on vertebrae or the spinal cord. They can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous).
  • Spondylolisthesis

    Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra (bone) in the lumbar spine (lower spine) slips out of place. In children, spondylolisthesis can occur as a result of a birth defect in the lumbar spine or from an acute injury. In adults, spondylolisthesis frequently occurs from abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones, such as from arthritis.
  • Spondylolysis

    Spondylolysis is a crack in the vertebra (bone) in the lumbar spine (lower spine). Spondylolysis is typically the result of a stress fracture. Spondylolysis is more common among athletes that must hyperextend their lower backs, such as gymnasts, weight lifters or football linemen. If the stress fracture weakens the bone significantly, it can slip forward causing spondylolisthesis.
  • A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops due to a clot, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen. There are several types of stroke and stroke-related conditions: ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA). 
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

    Subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissues surrounding the brain. (This area is called the subarachnoid space.) Most of these hemorrhages are caused by brain aneurysms. The main symptom is a sudden, severe headache.
  • Similar to a stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or “mini-stroke” occurs when blood flow to the brain stops briefly, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen.
  • Tremor

    Tremor is unintentional shaking or trembling that can occur in the hands, arm, head, face, vocal cords, trunk or legs. Common in people who suffer a stroke or have a neuromuscular condition such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia or multiple sclerosis, tremor can also affect otherwise healthy people.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia is a nerve disorder that causes excruciating pain frequently described as a lightning strike or electric shock to the face.