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Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery
The kinds of patients that come to our department of neurosurgery at UPMC span the broad array of neurosurgical diseases from brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, as well as degenerative diseases of the spine, including scoliosis, for example.
An incredibly important part of neurosurgery is experience and working as a team. And given that our system here is a very large system, very busy, we’re able to sub-specialize. The result is that your neurosurgeon will have seen that kind of problem many, many times and even though each patient is individual, we’re able to take care of them in a very tailored way that we’ve worked on.
One of the components that is crucial in managing the patients is that we approach each patient as an individual and we approach them as a team. It’s key that each patient is seen with a different set of eyes so that we’re able to provide the patient with options.
I know that each patient that comes to see me in the clinic is very anxious. Nobody goes to see a brain surgeon and is not anxious. So one of the roles that to me is critical is to inform the patient of all the options that are available, inform them of the disease that they have and really how we’re going to tailor our treatment to be able to provide them with superior care
A good example of the strength of our department of neurosurgery as well as the institution is the way that we manage brain tumors. Brain tumors can be treated in a broad variety of ways and I’ll give you an example. A certain type of brain tumor can be treated with a standard craniotomy using a microscope or it could potentially be operated on through an endoscope through the nose or given gamma knife radiosurgery. We actually have the largest gamma knife radiosurgery experience in the world.
One of the most exciting advances that have occurred in neurosurgery over the past decade or so is the ability to, in a minimally invasive way, take care of many different pathologies that we weren’t able to do that in the past. For example, taking care of aneurysms, doing small coiling procedures instead of doing a craniotomy, that provides the patient the ability to recover much quicker. The ability to be able to see each patient and decide which one of these different technologies is best for them is an incredibly fulfilling way to practice medicine.
The reason we come to work every morning is to be able to do better for our patients, to change the way that we practice medicine, to make sure that the way that we’re practicing medicine tomorrow is better than the way that we’ve been practicing it.
For more information, contact us at 412-647-3685.
Neurosurgery at UPMC: A powerful team approach
Dr. Robert M. Friedlander discusses the team approach to treating neurosurgical patients.