Your GP or physiotherapist may recommend that you see a neurosurgeon for a specialist opinion regarding your condition. I understand that this is not a commonplace everyday event and may be something that you find quite stressful or unsettling. I have written this to hopefully help you prepare for your visit.

A neurosurgeon is a specialist who focuses on neurological conditions that require surgery. As a surgeon one of the focuses of the assessment will be as to whether you need surgery to manage your problem. However only the minority of consultations will result in surgery being required.

Your specialist will take a detailed history of your current medical problem. He / she will also ask pertinent questions about your past medical and surgical history. They will also enquire about specific medications that you are taking that may interfere if any invasive management is planned.

The neurosurgeon will then conduct a focused clinical examination if this is relevant in your condition. In some cases, the imaging is more important, as some conditions can be diagnosed without you having any physical problems.

As an example, if you have back and or leg pain your specialist will focus the examination on neurological function of your legs. This usually involves testing strength, sensation and reflexes, but this may vary depending on your specific case. Often there is little focus during the examination on your back, as the specialist is concerned about nerves in your spine being trapped and affecting the way your legs are functioning as a consequence of this.

There will be other tests required to determine what specifically is causing your back pain, which could have multiple causes.

The neurosurgeon will then look at your most recent scans, which may be a CT or an MRI. They may compare that to older imaging that you have had done, but this will again vary from patient to patient.

Your specialist may then be able to determine what is causing your symptoms and give an opinion on how to manage your problem. However, further tests may need to be done to make a more specific diagnosis. If this is the case you will need to see your specialist more than once so that they can go through your test results with you and interpret how this relates to your specific symptoms.