Neurosurgery is a specialised field of medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system.
Worldwide the role of a neurosurgeon is extremely significant, as an increased number of people are being diagnosed with brain tumours and other diseases relating to the nervous system. More than ever, there is a high demand for these specialised surgeons, who dedicate their time to saving the lives of others and use their skills and expertise to improve the quality of life for people of all ages.
Doing an outstanding job in this field is Dr Omar Arnaout, a prominent and passionate neurosurgeon who is hoping to pave the way for improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and care of his patients.
Dr Arnaout is currently a faculty member of Harvard University’s School of Medicine and the Department of Neurological Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Having already participated in thousands of brain and spinal operations, Dr Arnaout made his decision at the young age of 17 to pursue a career in the medical field.
“I was driven by the desire to provide care for others, to alleviate suffering and to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. I felt medicine was a perfect fit,” says Dr Arnaout.
GCT recently chatted to Dr Arnaout about his passion for medicine, his extensive training and specialisations, as well as his aspirations for his contribution to neurosurgical improvements.
Did you always have a passion for neurosurgery?
Once I decided to pursue a career in medicine, neurosurgery was an obvious choice. The human brain is the most fascinating and complex organ on earth and really is nature’s crown jewel. Disorders of the brain are unique in that they have the ability to rob us of core attributes that make us individuals such as our personalities, memories and decision making ability; as a result they can significantly reduce not only the duration of a patients life but also its quality. Neurosurgeons are privileged with the task of treating such diseases, many of which are even curable. No other specialty in medicine is as demanding, but as gratifying, as neurosurgery.
Tell us about your training and first years of working as a specialist?
Neurosurgical training is very demanding and takes place over the course of seven years after the completion of medical school with trainees working 80+ hours per week. My own neurosurgical training took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, including time spent at Lurie Children’s Hospital and Cook County Hospital; all busy neurosurgical departments where I participated in over 1000 brain and spinal operations. Having a particular interest in treating brain tumours I also underwent advanced training in complex skull base tumors at Harvard University with Professor Al-Mefty and minimally invasive neurosurgery at Prince of Wales Hospital with Professor Teo.
What types of diseases are you able to treat?
Diseases treated by neurosurgeons run a wide spectrum and include benign and malignant brain tumours; vascular abnormalities of the brain such as aneurysms; traumatic injuries to the skull, brain or spine; seizure disorders; movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and a variety of spinal disorders ranging from stenosis to abnormal curvature of the spine.
What countries have you worked in?
In addition to operating in the United States and Australia, I have had the opportunity to perform some difficult cases in South Africa and Singapore. As well as operating, we will be holding teaching courses including an upcoming course in Amman, Jordan.
What has been some of your most rewarding work to date?
This is a difficult question because all of the work we do is rewarding although it can often be taxing. It is uniquely rewarding spending many hours carefully teasing a tumor from nerves and vessels under a microscope in order to achieve complete removal and, at the end of it, leaving the patient free of their symptoms and their disease.
What are your aspirations for the future as a neurosurgeon?
I have three primary goals as a neurosurgeon: First, to make a positive impact on the lives of as many patients as I can. Second, that my research results in incremental improvements in the ways that we diagnose, treat and care for our patients. Third, to participate in the global neurosurgical community bringing surgical techniques and care to underserved areas and providing opportunities for students from those areas to advance their learning.
How can people get in touch with you for further information?
You can email me directly at: [email protected]