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How to choose your neurosurgeon
  1. Stephen J Haines
  1. Professor S J Haines, Lyle A French Chair, Professor and Head, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, Mayo Memorial Building, 4th Floor, D-429, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; shaines{at}

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In making this choice on behalf of their patients, neurologists should first consider some necessary but not necessarily sufficient qualifications in their preferred neurosurgeon.

  • The neurosurgeon you choose should indeed be a properly qualified neurosurgeon. In some jurisdictions (the USA, for example) it is not legally required that one be certified by a specialty board in order to practice neurosurgery. In the USA, the American Board of Neurological Surgery requires at least a year of practice after graduating from an accredited training programme and passing its written examination before the final oral examination can be taken. Therefore, in the first few years after graduation a properly qualified neurosurgeon may be ‘Board eligible’ rather than ‘Board certified’. Board certification should be obtained within 5 years of graduation.

  • The surgeon’s license and hospital privileges should be in good standing. It is possible to practice with limitations on privileges or some form of supervision. This fact is unlikely to appear on the surgeon’s website and an inquiry of the hospital and licensing agency is required to uncover it.

  • The surgeon should have colleagues; a neurosurgeon in solo practice can too …

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  • Competing interests The author is a neurosurgeon!

  • Provenance Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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