Neurology is the branch
of medicine that deals with disorders of the nervous system, which include the
brain, blood vessels, muscles and nerves. The main areas of neurology are: the
autonomic, central and peripheral nervous systems. A physician who works in the
field of neurology is called a neurologist; a neurosurgeon treats neurological
disorders via surgery.
After 8 years of medical school, neurologists must
complete postgraduate residency for 3 to 4 years. After completion of
residency, some neurologists may continue on with fellowships in other areas of
neurology. These may include behavioral neurology, clinical neurophysiology,
epilepsy, interventional neurology or pain management.
Neurological disorders often differ between infants and
young children and adults. Neurological problems in those younger than 18 years
are managed by pediatric neurologists. Disorders that affect the pediatric
population include: cerebral palsy, complex metabolic diseases, epilepsy,
learning disabilities, and nerve and muscle diseases.
After 4 years of medical school, pediatric neurologists
complete 5-year post-graduate training comprised of 2 of pediatric training, 1
year in general neurology and 2 years in pediatric neurology.
Diagnosis and treatment
A neurologist is
trained to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. Neurologists must first
determine if a problem exists in the nervous system. The patient’s health
history is reviewed followed by a neurological exam which assesses the function
of cranial nerves, coordination, mental status, sensation, strength and
Once a diagnosis is developed, more tests may be
warranted to guide treatment. Diagnosis is carried out by tests such as the
computed axial tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging,
electroencephalography or electromyography.
Neurological disorders are comprised of brain cancer,
multiple sclerosis, spinal cord disorders, diseases that affect the muscles and
peripheral nerves and neuromuscular junctions.
One major clinical division of neurology is
neuro-oncology, which consists of the management of patients with primary brain
tumors, metastases and the neurologic complications of cancer.
Connection to other branches of medicine
Neurology is linked to
psychiatry and oncology.
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