Treatment of the Brain, Spinal Cord and Nerves

Neurosurgeons at McAllen Medical Center specialize in the treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves, including:

  • Muscle disorders and pain
  • Headache
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuritis
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Muscular dystrophy

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive spine surgery is the performance of surgery through tiny incisions, usually with the aid of microscopes or endoscopic visualization (very small devices or cameras designed for viewing internal portions of the body). Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to effectively treat disorders of the spinal discs with minimal muscle-related injury and enable rapid recovery.

These techniques offer several advantages including a few tiny scars instead of one large scar, minimal muscle-related injury, a shorter hospital stay, reduced post-operative pain, a shorter recovery period and the ability to return to work and daily activities much sooner.

Brainlab Curve

Curve by Brainlab is "the ultimate command and control center" for information-guided neurosurgery. Using sophisticated ergonomics, touch terminals, digital DC, hi-fi and wi-fi, the Curve's advanced technology provides for better surgeon collaboration and likely improved patient outcomes.

Spinal Tumors

Spinal tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). The treatment of benign tumors depends on patient symptoms such as pain or lack of mobility, and may be treated with a watch and wait approach, various medications, radiation or surgery. Malignant tumors can be treated with radiation and chemotherapy, and surgery can often be used in addition to these treatments to relieve pain, stabilize the spine and improve quality of life.

Spinal tumors that arise from the spine itself are divided into three categories, depending on where they originate in the spinal cord. Many spinal tumors are benign and cause problems largely because they interfere with nerve conduction or with the structure of the spine.

The spinal tumor categories are:

  • Extradural: schwannoma, metastatic cancer
  • Intradural-extramedullary: menigioma, schwannoma, neurofibroma, nerve root tumors
  • Intramedullary: astrocytoma, ependymoma, lipoma

Diseases of the Brain

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain that can originate in the brain or travel to the brain from another part of the body. They fall into two categories: benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous).

Benign tumors usually do not recur once they are removed and do not invade surrounding tissue. However they cause symptoms similar to cancerous tumors because of their size and location in the brain.

Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. They are usually fast growing and invade tissue, but they rarely spread to other areas of the body. Malignant tumors can recur after treatment. Sometimes, brain tumors are not cancerous, but they are called malignant because of their size and location. Also, they can damage vital functions of the brain.


Epilepsy is a neurological condition involving the brain that makes people more susceptible to seizures. A seizure occurs when parts of the brain receive a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal brain function.

There are various types of seizures. The type depends on which part of the brain is affected and what happens during the seizure. The two broad categories are generalized and focal seizures.

Otherwise known as partial seizures, focal seizures occur when abnormal electrical brain function occurs on one side of the brain. Focal seizures are sub-categorized as either simple or complex seizures.

Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain. There is a loss of consciousness during these seizures. The different types of generalized seizures include absence, atonic, tonic, clonic, tonic-clonic and myoclonic. They're described in more detail below.

  • Absence: A brief period (10-20 seconds) of staring, when awareness and responsiveness are impaired. Usually, people don’t realize they have had an absence seizure.
  • Atonic: Muscles suddenly lose strength; the head may nod and the person may drop things and often falls to the ground. They usually remain conscious.
  • Tonic: Muscles in the body, arms or legs suddenly stiffen. They most often occur during sleep.
  • Clonic: There is a rapid contraction and relaxation of the muscle, creating a jerking motion. The movement can’t be stopped through restraint. They are, however, rare.
  • Tonic-Clonic: A mix of characteristics from tonic and clonic seizures. The tonic phase comes first followed by the clonic phase. Consciousness returns slowly and the person may be drowsy or confused.
  • Myoclonic: Very brief jerks that usually don’t last more than two seconds. They are short shock-like jerks of the muscle. People without epilepsy can experience these as well.
For more information, call the Surgery Department at 956-632-4260.