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The Gundersen Neurosurgery team

Neurosurgery

Gundersen's neurosurgeons diagnose and treat disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Our neurosurgeons will work with other specialists to try conservative treatments (exercises and other therapies) when possible, in addition to offering surgical interventions when appropriate. 

What conditions do we treat?

  • Arm pain with or without weakness that has not resolved with conservative treatment and/or time
  • Back and/or leg pain that has failed conservative treatment and time
  • Pain or dense numbness in the hand, wrist, forearm or elbow
  • Vascular abnormalities in the brain that could cause dangerous bleeding
  • Blood around or in the brain
  • Brain tumors or lesions
  • Brain aneurysms
  • Arnold Chiari malformation
  • Stroke
  • Movement disorders
  • Sciatica and pinched nerves
  • Disc pain
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal stenosis

Our board-certified surgeons perform surgeries in these areas

Back and Neck Pain

Spinal fusion - During spinal fusion, a surgeon fuses together two or more vertebrae in your spine, limiting motion between them and relieving pain. The length of your hospital stay and recovery from spinal fusion surgery may depend on which section of your spine is fused.

Complex spine surgery – Complex spine surgery is similar to spinal fusion, but the surgeon fuses six or more vertebrae together. Recovery from complex spine surgery can be a long process, but most patients experience increased mobility and less pain over time.

Discectomy - Discectomy is a type of minimally invasive surgery to fix a disc in the lower back. During the surgery, part—or all—of a herniated or ruptured disc in your back will be removed. You may be able to return home the same day of your surgery, although a short hospital stay may be necessary. Discectomy is an option if more conservative options haven't worked.

Laminectomy – Laminectomy is a surgery to remove the part of the vertebra called the lamina, creating more room in your spinal canal and relieving pressure on the nerves in your lower back. You may be able to go home the same day as the surgery, although a short hospital stay may be necessary in some cases.

Laminotomy – Laminotomy is similar to Laminectomy, though the surgery is done to remove just part of the lamina, usually on one side. This procedure is performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. With part of the lamina still in place, the chance of experiencing spinal instability after surgery is reduced.

Disc Arthroplasty - Disc arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that involves replacing a painful disc with an artificial disc. Artificial disc surgery may be performed on the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine). Artificial discs are designed to reduce pain by mirroring the function of the original disc.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty – Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are used to treat fractures in the bones of the spine, which are commonly a result of osteoporosis. In a vertebroplasty, your doctor will inject a type of surgical cement into the fractured bone using X-ray guidance. In a kyphoplasty, the doctor inserts a balloon into the fractured bone to create space, then fills that that space with cement. These procedures make the spine more stable and relieve back pain.

Lumbar Decompression – Lumbar decompression is performed to alleviate pain caused by pinched nerves. During lumbar decompression surgery, a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root is removed to give the nerve root more space and provide a better healing environment.

Brain

Craniotomy – A craniotomy is the surgical removal of a section of the skull, called a bone flap, to expose the brain. It may be performed during surgery for a variety of neurological injuries, diseases or conditions such as aneurysms, brain tumors, hematomas and skull fractures. A craniotomy may also be performed to ease swelling of the brain.

Transsphenoidal pituitary surgery – Transsphenoidal pituitary surgery is performed to remove pituitary tumors. There is no visible scar from this surgery and the chance of damage to the brain is very low because the brain is not touched.

Shunts - A shunt is a narrow type of tubing that is inserted in the brain to remove excess spinal fluid and decrease pressure on the brain. Your recovery time depends on the reason for the shunt and what type of shunt was inserted.

Vagus nerve stimulator – Vagus nerve stimulation is a surgical treatment used to treat epilepsy. During VNS, a device is implanted—under the skin in your upper chest—that generates pulses of electricity to stimulate the vagus nerve, lessening seizure activity. Many patients notice a decrease in the frequency and severity of seizures.

Facial Pain

Microvascular balloon decompression – Microvascular balloon decompression is designed to treat facial pain and twitching that does not respond to other therapies. The surgery relieves pressure caused by the compression of a nerve by a blood vessel. This procedure normally offers long-lasting relief and minimizes the risk of numbness following surgery.

Suboccipital decompression – Suboccipital decompression is done to relieve pressure on the brain or restore the flow of spinal fluid in patients with Chiari malformation.

Percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy – Percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy is performed to disrupt a nerve that causes pain in your face. The nerve is compressed to interrupt the pathway that causes the pain. Many people will return home within a day of the surgery.

Hand, Wrist, Forearm and Elbow

Carpal tunnel release – Carpal tunnel release may be performed if your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms become severe or if more conservative treatments have failed. The surgery provides added room for the nerves and tendons passing through your tunnel, usually lessening pain and increasing function.

Ulnar nerve decompression – Ulnar nerve decompression is done to explore the area in the elbow that contains the ulnar nerve. A neurosurgeon will remove any compressive forces that are causing dysfunction of the ulnar nerve. Most patients return home the same day of the surgery.

Vascular Abnormalities

Clot removal – Surgical clot removal is a type of surgery that removes plaque. The plaque removal results in improved blood flow to the brain and lessens your risk of future stroke.

Carotid endarterectomy – Carotid endarterectomy is a surgery that removes plaque and any damaged part of the artery. You will see an improvement in blood flow to your brain and lower risk of future stroke. This is done for patients who suffer an ischemic stroke.

Aneurysm coiling - Your surgeon will insert a tiny coil into your aneurysm to help collect blood and cause it to clot. This minimally invasive procedure stops the aneurysm from leaking and prevents it from bursting again.

Aneurysm clipping – A neurosurgeon places a tiny clip across the base of the aneurysm to stop an aneurysm from bleeding.

Movement Disorders

Deep brain stimulation - Deep brain stimulation is a surgical option for patients with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders such as essential tremor and medically refractory dystonia. DBS uses a neurostimulator to block abnormal nerve signals that cause movement disorder symptoms such as tremors. The amount of stimulation provided can be customized depending on your needs.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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