Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Neurosurgeon explains Specialty in Invercargill

May 2012

Neurosurgeon explains his specialty at fundraiser

A mixed crowd of medical professionals, students, businesspeople and "housewives and mums" turned up at the Civic Theatre yesterday to hear why the neurosurgery node in Dunedin is crucial to Southlanders.

The presentation was part of the Southland launch of the chair in neurosurgery campaign, which is about $730,000 away from its $3 million fundraising goal.

Yesterday, South Island Neurosurgical Services clinical director Martin MacFarlane took a group of 76 through the history of neurosurgery, from modern power tools back 3000 years to a time when flintstones were used by early surgeons to access the brain.

Surprisingly, some of these patients did survive, he told the audience during the 35-minute PowerPoint presentation which also showed footage of the treatment of aneurism and tumours as well as head injuries from common accidents.

However, only about 2.6 per cent of the 699 cases seen at the Dunedin and Christchurch node in 2011 were from head injuries, he said.

"Though it is a small but important category because they can deteriorate so quickly," he said. "The bulk of what we see is brain tumours."

Also, contrary to popular perception, were the number of people who underwent surgery.

Last year, 456 people out of the 699 had conditions that were treated by neurological services without going into surgery, he said.

Conditions included epilepsy, spinal infections, back pain and aneurisms.

Patient statistics had not been broken down by region, he said, but the same conditions were seen evenly across the South Island at the units in Dunedin and Christchurch.

Dr MacFarlane said about 50 per cent of the patients coming through the Southern service were from Southland.

James Hargest College student Celia Blaas, 17, said advances made in the speciality – outlined in the presentation – were inspiring for someone like her, who was thinking about a career as a neurosurgeon.

Celia was at the presentation with a group of students to present a $2000 cheque, raised from a mufti day on campus last term.

Having the chair in neurosurgery position based at the University of Otago meant that she would be getting the best possible access to cutting-edge education in that field if she chose to study in Dunedin.

"It's important to develop the unit for young New Zealanders who are interested in [neuroscience]."

Public donations to the campaign can be made at any National Bank or ANZ branch.

Donations by mail: Freepost 2064, Neurosurgery Campaign, PO Box 914, Dunedin, 9054. By internet banking: Neurosurgery campaign 060287013330105


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