A neurectomy is a type of surgery in which the surgeon removes all or part of a nerve. This surgery is generally considered as a more extreme approach to treatment which will only be brought out if other treatment methods are not working, because there are some risks to a neurectomy which can make it dangerous for a patient. A neurosurgeon typically performs this procedure, relying on years of experience with the nervous system to do the delicate work involved in stripping a nerve from the body.
One of the most common reasons to perform a neurectomy is if a patient experiences chronic pain. If other treatment methods for the pain have failed, a surgeon can remove the nerve sending the pain signals, thereby alleviating the patient's pain. Neurectomies can also be used for the treatment of other sensations which are unsettling or disturbing for a patient.
Removal of all or part of a nerve can also be used to treat conditions like involuntary twitching, blushing, or excessive sweating. Since this can sometimes involve the delicate nerves around the face, it requires a very high degree of skill and a steady hand to ensure that the right connection is severed, without causing damage to surrounding nerves.
Before a neurectomy is performed, a surgeon may recommend that a procedure be performed to temporarily block signals from the nerve. This allows the surgeon to confirm which nerve is responsible for the problem, and it gives the patient a chance to experience what life might be like without sensory input from that nerve. This may also reveal that a problem thought to lie in a specific nerve lies elsewhere, something which would be good to know before a nerve is permanently taken out of commission.
When a patient wakes up from a neurectomy, he or she should experience immediate relief from the condition which led to the neurectomy procedure. However, the patient can also experience numbness and other symptoms such as tingling or impairment of the surrounding nerves. In rare cases, a condition called stump neuroma occurs. In this case, even though the nerve is gone, the patient experiences searing pain. This condition also plays a role in phantom limb syndrome, a condition which is experienced by some amputees. While the brain is a highly adaptable organ, sometimes it can be confused by a major change, which can result in misfirings of neurons which cause the sensation of pain when no pain is present.