The central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, is at the center of everything we do. It controls our thoughts, movements, respirations, emotions, and regulates virtually every process in our body. When the brain or spinal cord becomes damaged or diseased, it can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life and, in extreme cases, lead to impairment or even permanent disability.
At Summit Health, our Neurosurgery department specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and injuries that affect both the brain and spinal cord. Most patients that come to us have conditions related to spinal degeneration, including neck or low back pain, limited mobility, or nerve compression causing pain, weakness, numbness, or a combination of all three. However, we also treat more complicated spinal conditions, revision spinal surgery, and intracranial injuries and disorders.
Every case is unique. In our department, neurosurgeons Matthew Amarante, MD, and Arthur Carminucci, MD, partner closely with patients to develop an individualized treatment plan that is tailored specifically for them. Using a variety of non-invasive treatments and minimally-invasive surgical techniques, our goal is to reduce symptoms, restore function, and return patients to normalcy at work and home as quickly and comfortably as possible.
A Team Approach to Care
As part of Summit Health’s large, integrated health system, our neurosurgeons provide truly comprehensive care working alongside various specialty partners. Neurosurgeons frequently collaborate with:
- Pain management physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and neurologists for spinal disorders.
- Ear, nose, and throat physicians, as well as endocrinologists for pituitary tumors.
- Neuro-oncologists and medical and radiation oncologists for malignant brain or spinal tumors.
- Primary care and referring providers to coordinate all aspects of care.
“When it comes to injuries and conditions of the brain and spine, it is imperative that there is seamless communication between every provider. Since all these disciplines are available at Summit Health across multiple convenient locations, there is no need for patients to go outside the group. Everything from imaging to blood work to referrals can be taken care of in-house,” says Dr. Amarante.
Conditions We Treat
We follow patients throughout their entire experience, offering a continuum of care from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up. Our neurosurgeons commonly treat:
- Degenerative conditions of the spine - Caused by aging, injury, or arthritis, these disorders can lead to loss of function and structural instability. We see patients with neck and back pain, sciatica, radiculopathy, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and spine fractures.
- Brain and spinal tumors - Our neurosurgeons treat all types of intracranial and spinal growths including benign, malignant, and metastatic tumors as well as gliomas, and meningiomas.
- Traumatic brain and spine injuries - While acute cranial and spinal emergencies are typically treated in the hospital setting, many patients require continued management after discharge. We provide follow-up care and monitoring for patients who have had brain hemorrhages, hydrocephalus, stroke, and spinal cord injury.
The Neurosurgical Team Offers the Following Services:
- Diagnosis of any brain and spinal condition using advanced imaging modalities including x-ray, MRI, CT, and PET scans.
- State-of-the art, image-guided spinal navigation to place instrumentation during spinal fusion surgeries.
- Sophisticated surgical interventions including lumbar laminectomy, lumbar fusion, cervical fusion, and thoracic spine surgery.
- Minimally-invasive and less-invasive options for spinal surgery that can be performed in Summit Health’s own ambulatory surgery center, which allows patients to have same-day procedures.
- Endoscopic surgery for the treatment of pituitary tumors. With the assistance of our ENT colleagues, we use a small camera inserted into the nose to resect pituitary tumors.
- Non-invasive techniques such as stereotactic radiosurgery, which delivers high-energy, targeted radiation beams precisely to the tumor, avoiding the need for whole brain radiation.
- Post-operative care and recovery planning, including follow-ups with pain management specialists, physical therapists, and neurologists to help patients return to an active, normal life.
- Multidisciplinary collaboration with critical-care physicians and hospitalists who manage treatment during the acute post-operative period.
- Regular communication with the patient’s Summit Health primary care provider through a shared electronic medical record.
Functional Neurosurgery: A Novel Treatment Approach
Some of the patients who come to Summit Health seeking brain or spinal care live with chronic debilitating pain or a significant loss of function. Functional neurosurgery is a growing area of medicine that uses state-of-the-art technology and devices to restore function and reduce pain in patients with chronic problems associated with movement-related disorders, back pain, or spinal injuries. These therapies typically use electrical stimulation delivered to the spine to interrupt the pain signals being relayed back to the brain, or direct stimulation of the brain itself.
With the expansion of our neurosurgery team this fall, we will offer the following functional neurosurgical modalities:
- Spinal cord stimulation - Uses an implant in the spine to interrupt pain signals, treating patients with chronic pain from failed back surgery, lower back pain that is refractory to all treatment, and painful neuropathy/neuropathic pain.
- Deep brain stimulation - As movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and essential tremors progress to later stages, many patients are unable to control their symptoms with medication. Electrodes are precisely implanted into specific areas of the brain that help regulate these abnormal impulses.
Case Scenario: How the Comprehensive Spine Center Works
A patient visits a neurosurgeon at Summit Health to address severe leg pain that has failed treatment with prescribed medications. Initial x-rays demonstrate lumbar degenerative disease, and a follow-up MRI reveals a herniated disc. This is a relatively common problem often referred to as a slipped disc. The neurosurgeon works closely with a physical therapist and pain management specialist, all located under the same roof within Summit Health’s Comprehensive Spine Center, to develop a conservative treatment approach that includes an exercise plan and possibly injections. While many patients respond to this treatment plan without needing surgery, this individual does not experience any long-lasting relief. Our neurosurgeon discusses surgical options, and the patient and their surgeon agree on a lumbar laminectomy and discectomy—a procedure that alleviates pain by removing the herniated disc and taking the pressure off the spinal nerves. After a successful same day surgery, he receives seamless follow-up care and continues to rehabilitate with the same physical therapist.
“At Summit Health we provide comprehensive neurosurgical treatment for a broad spectrum of spine and brain disorders. We offer a patient-centered approach and utilize state-of-the-art techniques to provide the safest and least invasive treatment tailored to the patient based on his or her symptomatology,” explains Dr. Carminucci.
Summit Health Neurosurgery and the Comprehensive Spine Center have two convenient locations in northern New Jersey at 150 Park Avenue, Florham Park and 890 Mountain Ave, New Providence. We are one of the few neurosurgery practices in the region that remains in-network for most insurance plans.