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Neurosurgery


If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

Non-acute skull fracture/ non- acute traumatic brain injury

  • Acute trauma
  • Change in conscious level or deteriorating neurological functions
  • Head trauma with seizures

Brain tumours (intracerebral, meningioma, skull base, pituitary)

  • Symptoms of signs of raised intracranial pressure
  • Severe and increasing headache
  • Deteriorating neurological function
  • Seizures

Neurovascular disorders (aneurysm, AVMs, other)

  • Symptoms of signs of raised intracranial pressure
  • Severe and increasing headache
  • Deteriorating neurological function
  • Seizures
  • Clinical suspicion or subarachnoid haemorrhage or intracerebral haemorrhage

Hydrocephalus and VP shunt

  • Symptoms of signs of raised intracranial pressure
  • Increasing severity of headache
  • Deteriorating neurological function
  • Seizures
  • Swelling pain or redness along shunt tract
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Clinical suspicion of shunt infection

Trigeminal neuralgia and other cranial nerve abnormalities

  • Severe intractable pain preventing adequate fluid intake

Spine

  • Actual or threatened cauda equina syndrome
    • bilateral nerve pain (leg pain below knees)
    • unexplained or unexpected loss of bladder or bowel function
    • perineal anaesthesia
    • progressive weakness
  • Spinal tumour with significant pain and/or neurological deficit
  • Clinical signs spinal nerve root compression or spinal cord compression with rapidly progressive neurological signs/symptoms
  • Spinal trauma with significant pain and/or neurological deficit
  • Spinal fractures demonstrated on imaging
  • Clinical suspicion of spinal infections
  • High risk of irreversible deficit if not assessed urgently

Peripheral nerve compression including carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment neuropathy, common peroneal and lateral cutaneous nerve of thigh compression syndromes

  • Acute development of peripheral nerve compression symptoms following trauma

Other referrals to emergency not covered within conditions:

Adult

  • Collapse/altered level of consciousness/new neurological deficit
  • Suspected subarachnoid haemorrhage or other intracranial haemorrhage
  • Headache with concerning features:
    • sudden onset/thunderclap headache
    • severe headache with signs of systemic illness (fever, neck stiffness, vomiting, confusion, drowsiness)
    • first severe headache age over 50 years
    • severe headache associated with recent head trauma
  • Symptomatic benign or malignant space-occupying lesion
  • Suspected or proven blocked or infected VP shunt
  • Acute hydrocephalus
  • Head injuries/trauma including extensive scalp laceration or suspected traumatic brain injury
  • Trigeminal neuralgia – severe uncontrollable pain

Paediatric

  • Benign or malignant space occupying lesion associated with midline shift, hydrocephalus, neurological or endocrine deficit
  • Acute hydrocephalus
  • Suspected or proven blocked or infected VP shunt
  • Vascular disorders – suspected subarachnoid haemorrhage or other intracranial haemorrhage e.g. Thunderclap headache, collapse/altered level of consciousness, headache with vomiting, new neurological deficit
  • Cranial trauma – extradural, subdural haematoma, large cerebral contusion, concussion injuries, diffuse axonal injury, skull fractures, CSF fistula/leakage spinal trauma or other spinal conditions with severe or rapidly progressive deficit e.g. Loss of sensation, muscular weakness or cauda equina syndrome
  • Generalised seizures, prolonged focal seizures and persistent neurological deficits

 

The following are not routinely provided in a public Neurosurgery service.

Adult

  • Fusion for back pain due to degenerative disease without correlating clinical symptoms or signs of neural compression
    • chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting more than 6 months. Back and neck chronic pain – degenerative changes nil acute neurology (please refer to Spine CPC)
  • Non-specific headache without concerning features or not requiring surgical intervention should be referred to neurology.

 

 Paediatric

  • Positional plagiocephaly/moulding – refer paediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery