There is no part of the human body more mysterious, or more central to our being, than the brain. It allows us to interact with the world around us, to think, to create and to remember. The brain makes us who we are and what we believe.
Despite centuries of study, there is so much we don’t know about it.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, described seizures, spasms, head contusions, skull fractures and depressions, and he performed brain surgery around 400 B.C. Skeletal remains make it clear our ancient forbearers were cutting open the skull even earlier, performing surgeries with bronze tools. We know that some of these ancient patients survived (bone regrowth tells the tale), but many did not.
William Williams Keen Jr. was the first brain surgeon in the U.S., in 1888 performing one of the first successful removals of large brain tumors. (He also performed surgery on President Grover Cleveland and was consulted on President Franklin Roosevelt’s paralysis.)
In the specialized arena of modern medicine, it’s the neurosurgeon who performs brain surgery. But there’s more to their practice than the brain: Neurosurgeons treat head and spine trauma; stroke; vascular disorders affecting the
brain; blocked carotid arteries; chronic low back pain; birth defects; brain and spinal tumors; and abnormalities affecting the peripheral nerves, including those of the face, jaw, legs, hands and feet.
As you might expect, the road to becoming a neurosurgeon is long and difficult. It includes four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school and between six and eight years of specialized training in neurosurgery, called a residency. There are only 99 neurosurgery residency programs in the U.S.!
In recognition of the hard work and dedication it requires to become a neurosurgeon, and the immense responsibility that goes with the profession, August has been designated nationwide as Neurosurgery Awareness Month.
Lexington Clinic is proud to have four exceptional neurosurgeons on its staff: Robert Owen, M.D., Gabriel Phillips, M.D., Henry Tutt, M.D., and Matthew Tutt, M.D. In August, Lexington Clinic welcomes its fifth neurosurgeon: James H. Smith Jr., M.D.
Dr. Smith earned his medical degree from East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C., and completed his neurosurgery residency at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
He provides consultation services in cranial, spinal and peripheral nerve surgery. Dr. Smith’s professional interests include complex spinal surgery involving the craniocervical junction; cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine; minimally invasive spinal surgery; deformity surgery; spinal trauma and tumors; brain trauma and tumors; trigeminal neuralgia; peripheral nerve/pain; electrical spinal cord stimulation; and functional neurosurgery. He is board-eligible in neurosurgery.
The neurosurgeons at Lexington Clinic provide patients with innovative, compassionate and genuine care at every stage of treatment. As the first neurosurgeons in the state of Kentucky to utilize the Airo CT scanner in the operating room, they give their patients the best and most up-to-date care. Patients are seen by referral.
For more information, please call (859) 258-6760. The office is located at Lexington Clinic at KentuckyOne Health Office Park, 1401 Harrodsburg Road, Suite A540, Lexington, KY 40504.