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Questions to ask surgeon

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am hoping I can get some good suggestions on questions to ask of a surgeon. I don't know what kind of surgeon I will be seeing yet. But my PM doctor asked if I wanted to consult with a surgeon several appointments ago, and I am ready to say yes.

It is coming up on two years of continuous pain. I have had multiple conservative treatments, with no help so far. ESI's, facet injection and nerve block, acupuncture, TENS unit, and medication (oxycodone seemed to help a little at first, but not now, and I am hoping the PM will increase the dose).

I realize that without knowing what kind of surgeon, and more specifically what kind of procedure is recommended, it is difficult to come up with specific questions. But I"m hoping some of you here will have some suggestions for good general questions I should be prepared with.

My PM appointment is on Friday, and that is when I am going to say I'd like to consult with a surgeon, as well as asking about increasing my oxycodone dose and scheduling a discogram (which she said would be beneficial to her, even if surgery is not an option). I don't know how long it might take to get an appointment with a surgeon, though I am predicting that she will refer me to one in her practice to start out with.

I thought I would ask in advance, as I know it sometimes takes a while to get responses.

Thanks in advance. Cathy
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Comments

  • Yeah that is tuff. :? :?
    Has surgery been mentioned from the PM dr?.
    Have you ever even seen a Ortho or a Neuro?

    Questions I would ask the PM is do you think you would even benefit from surgery? Of course all the time they are not trained in that so their answer may not be the same as a specialist. My PM did not even know how to read a MRI :T :T :T :B =;

    If you do get referred to a specialist. I find orthopedic spine surgeons are the fastest to get into. Just from experience.
    Do your homework on the surgeon. Write down like: how many surgeries have they performed. What are their sucess rates? What would your sucess rate be if you were to have surgery.
    What type of surgery do they think is best for you. Fusion, disectomy, microdisectomy etc.

    My surgeon was pretty clear cut the first time I walked in the door with my MRI results. For my neck it was either injections or surgery and I took surgery.
    For my back we tried a ESI in Pain managment with no success for my lower back. So the PM did not want to do another.
    My surgeon ordered a update MRI and suggested surgery and left it up to me. Told me a fusion surgery and that its a hard long recovery.
    I went home sat on it for a day and called and said YES.
    I mean what did I have to loose.
    I was in pain for a year and half. It was ruining my life.
    So I jumped at the idea before I started with nerve pain etc.
    I am so very happy I did.
    Yes you will see I did not fuse and had surgery over again.
    But that is because I have arterial disease that we just found out a few weeks ago. So totally different situation.
    Did surgery help my issues YOU BET it did!! I am very pleased.

    Sorry for so long.
    Think of things in your head along with what I told you.
    A good surgeon will explain everything from A-Z.

    Good luck!!
    Terri :D :D
  • Hard to be specific without knowing exactly what they are thinking.....

    but you need to consider things like your recovery time, risks and then risk of furher surgery.
    I know thi smay sound a bit obvious but each condition, patient scenario will carry a slightly different set of risks and things to consider.

    EG, i was told to consider ADR V Fusion (in the end their was no choice to be had) but I did my homework and decided to go BIGGIE, fusion, once and over with surgery because for me the risk of re-operation was high.

    Do you smoke? Think about the added risks there as well.

    Nitty gritty questiowill come after you know where they are going.

    You need to feel confident with the surgeon, how many procedures does he do? What happens if theis doesn't work?

    If you are confident with them as a person and their rationale for the proposed treatment you are half way there.
    keep us posted. good luck
  • I agree, it is hard to give you suggestions for what to ask without any specifics. Once you meet with the surgeon and get an idea what is going on, then I think is the time to formulate questions. Questions based on their suggested treatment plan... Ya know? I had a consult with my Neurosurgeon and the first visit I scheduled my first surgery for 2 weeks later. THEN, 4 months later for my second surgery, after I had a consult and she told me it was my last option, and I said yes, I went home and thought about questions and made a list on paper. Then I made an appointment with her JUST to ask the questions. She didn't mind at all. In fact, she liked the fact that I wanted to be so informed & had done my research.

    Keep us updated :)
  • Hi Treefrog, have you read up on the information topics about spine surgery here on SH? I think doing my research helped me formulate questions for my surgeon. Definitely write them down in a notebook to bring with you. As you think of things you can add them while you wait for to get an appointment. I will post a link to questions to ask a spine surgeon. Good-luck, Sue

    http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/specific-questions-ask-your-spine-surgeon
  • Yes, I've already started doing some research. Including a lot of reading here on SH.

    Of course, I can't do much either, before knowing what the surgeon might recommend. But I have looked at profiles of surgeons associated with the PM's practice (some are listed under the clinical trials here on SH), as well as ones here at Duke Univ (where I work). I have plenty of top notch surgeons to choose from - thank goodness.

    The PM said she thought fusion may be a good option for me. Though I am hoping that the surgeon will suggest something less invasive.

    And no, I don't smoke. And I'm not overweight either. So, if I have to have surgery, I'm in a fairly good place. I could be in better physical shape, though with the pain, I haven't done a lot of physical activity.

    I already have some things to discuss with my PM, like finding out if she sends any sort of repeort to the surgeon before I see them. Also I'm concerned that a surgeon won't take me seriously because my pain level isn't extremely high (usually around a 4 [uncomfortable] on a scale of 1-10). But the fact that the pain has been constant for so long, I'm hoping that I am just worrying needlessly. My PM was the one to suggest seeing a surgeon, after trying conservative treatment. At first I said I wasn't ready to consider surgery, but now I am.

    Here are some of the questions that I have thought of.
    - Of course the first question, do you recommend surgery, what type and why.
    - Would surgery be better now or would you recommend waiting, and why.
    - Recovery easier if done now versus later?

    And now I can add some others that you have suggested (and some that have come to mind based on what you have said).
    - How many of these surgeries have you done, and how many per year?
    - What is your success rate?
    - What are the chances I would need additional surgeries afterwards?
    - What if I choose not to have the surgery, what can I expect?

    I will be sure to come back here again, after talking to a surgeon. This site has been so informative, and helpful.
  • Cathy,

    Sounds to me that you already have some good questions prepared. The most important being "what kind of surgery do you suggest and why?" Ask for the exact name of the surgery, e.g., ALIF, PLIF, etc. Once you know that, you can do some research on it and formulate additional questions regarding that specific type of surgery. For example once I found out about my fusion, I wanted to know everything, about:

    the type of incision,
    instrumentation used,
    anesthetics,
    prevention of infection and blood cloth,
    pain control after surgery,
    length of hospitalization,
    recovery period,
    limitations, follow-up visits,
    will you be using braces,
    will you need a hospital bed at home, etc.

    It is great that you are doing such an in-depth research.

    Good luck to you,

    Kin
  • Cathy,

    Sounds to me that you already have some good questions prepared. The most important being "what kind of surgery do you suggest and why?" Ask for the exact name of the surgery, e.g., ALIF, PLIF, etc. Once you know that, you can do some research on it and formulate additional questions regarding that specific type of surgery. For example once I found out about my fusion, I wanted to know everything, about:

    the type of incision,
    instrumentation used,
    anesthetics,
    prevention of infection and blood cloth,
    pain control after surgery,
    length of hospitalization,
    recovery period,
    limitations, follow-up visits,
    will you be using braces,
    will you need a hospital bed at home, etc.

    It is great that you are doing such an in-depth research.

    Good luck to you,

    Kin
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