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How to find good neurosurgeon/spine doc

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
How would you go about finding a good spine surgeon. Someone who deals with congential deformities of the cervical area.


  • What city/state are you near? Do you have a PM Dr?

  • I looked at the resumes of board certified teaching surgeons at universities. I felt they would be the ones most up-to-date on procedures and have done more challenging operations. The only caveat-ask if residents will be doing any of the work. I thought as a private pay and referred patient I would only be getting the Chief of Neurological Surgery operating on me, but I had residents in the operating room as well. I was not told that up front, but as I thought about it, 2 or even 3 heads are better then one.

    I asked how many of my specific type surgeries he had done, infection rates, and to tell me all the side effects. I made him look me in the eyes and said- can I trust you to take care of me? He said yes and I believed him. If you don't believe in your guts-look some more. There are many surgeons out there-you can pick the pne you think is best. I did not go for the first one I saw, but got three opinions!
  • I work at the teaching hospital where I had my neck surgery. I signed a paper saying I did NOT allow any other Interns or students in the OR during my durgery. I can't believe they did not tell you this!
    My surgeon is very well respected. He isn't a Neuro doc, but an Ortho Surgeon who specializes in deformities of the spine. He is in Las Vegas
  • An OP at a teaching hospital in Pittsburgh.He does spines,but I had foot surgeries.I was lucky to get the top surgeon,but the wait was long each time.They did a case study on my feet and there were 5 other surgeons there from other countries during my 6th operation-it was a 4point reconstruction(bone,muscle,etc)

    I'm just sayin' :))(
  • I knew I had the right one when he didn't rush out of the room to his next patient and instead spent time answering MY questions first. He was attentive and concerned. He cemented in my head what I already knew about him when I was rolled down to the pre op area before surgery and he came and sat next to me and talked to me and put his hand on top of mine and said "We're going to fix this." Like I was part of his team. I will NEVER forget that. If I were you I would make an appointment just for a consult until you find someone who treats you the way you want to be treated and takes your case on like you're his only patient.
  • I might be biased (gee, who would've guessed?!), but I highly suggest our "Find a Doctor" feature in the top menu. It has a directory of quality doctors who have willingly provided their information for the directory (it means we don't just pull the names of random doctors and put them in a directory).

    Hopefully one of those doctors will be near enough to talk to. All of them are Spine-Health members.

    Hope that helps,

    - Ben

  • Research major university websites.The Drs will list their area of expertise or their interests.I would also suggest 2nd opinions if at all possible. I got 3.

    For anyone reading this,when picking a NS or ortho Dr., how much of your decision should be based on Drs personality? The NS I have now has superior credentials but no personality. He is all business and almost seems like his speech is rehearsed when he explains surgery to you.

  • Maybe your PM Dr. could help you find someone if he's hooked up with a hospital. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • The best surgeon I ever had(and there were quite a few)was very abrubt and serious.Not mean,but not there to be friends either,and he let me know that with his brisk manner.I would rather have a good surgeon than than good friend-operating on me.

    I base surgery on how good the surgeon is(as a surgeon).I really don't care how friendly he is,after all I'm not there to make friends.Just get the job done-IMO.
  • I just love my surgeon, but definitely not because of his personality, or lack thereof. He has a passion for cervical surgery and has the bonafidies that prove it. He did a wonderful job, but whenever I have to see him, he seems a bit uncomfortable and is very to-the-point and serious. I'm with you, Robin - I don't need another friend, I just want him to get the job done and done right.
  • I too love my doc, he had great bedside manners, never felt rushed, he was very good at explaining things, and he is listed here on this site, He told me what he could do and couldn't do, and told me straight up, he was the third doc I went to, and am so happy,,,, oh ya, someone on this site reccomended him to me, and another reason I liked him, as the person who told me about him had complications, and the doc was right on top of eveything,I am not perfect as far as spine, but doc didn't have a perfect spine to work with, I am much better now, would do it over again with him.
  • A lot of it is knowing your own needs in the first place. I want the whole package. I want to be treated as a whole person. I want to be part of the team or involved in my care. This means the doctor has to be a good listener. Sure its important the doctor have good technique, but if the doctor is so arrogant and "checks out" when you present concerns, it can place you at higher risk. For example, he/she may miss a complication that could have been avoided. So a doctor with good technical expertise AND one that takes my concerns seriously is important to me. Really this is the difference between being confident and being overly confident to the point the patient is at further risk.

    Since I've experienced this never-ending flare-up I've visited several spine surgeons. The first one was well trained, devoted to spine surgery and actively operating. I noticed when I begin to answer his questions he quickly checks out. He even glanced at his text messages while I was answering his questions and failed to inform me in several ways. The second surgeon I saw (also spine doc) did not review the images with me directly and even behaved as though he was skeptical towards my complaints. The third surgeon actively listened to my concerns and did not seem to allow his ego to get in the way. He asked more questions and made sure I reviewed the images with him. When I questioned his logic and gave him more information to back my concerns he factored my additional information into a possible treatment plan pending further testing. The fourth surgeon I visited only listened for information to back up what appeared to be a preconceived notion of my problems and seemed to only want to help me on his own terms.

    My outlook on these doctors:
    #1) I'm sure he would do good work but if I ran into complications post op I'm afraid he would not pick up on the problem until the problem became more serious.
    #2) His skepticism towards me makes me feel skeptical of him.
    #3) With this surgeon I felt yards ahead of the other surgeons. He shows more willingness to factor in my complaints and concerns and wants me to be involved from the get go. I'm more willing to go back to him and explore further testing. My only problem is he is 400 miles from my home and if I ran into a complication this could be a huge problem and a risk.
    #4) This guys "conservative" manner is self serving. He already sees me as "broken" which I find demoralizing. Working with him might be just as risky as #1 or #2 doctors.

    Background: I have a recent past history of serious complication after a craniotomy. Thus I proceed with caution and am sensitive to marked deficites in the relationship from the beginning. I kind of like the doctor to be themselves from the beginning so I can evaluate them in terms of their strengths and weakenesses as you would a job applicant.

    Sure searching via this forum or going to a major university or a referral through another doctor are all good starting points. To me its important to go further and factor in the rapport you build or not build with the doctors as well.

    Its also a good idea to be mindful of the doctors accessiblity. How much does his or her staff protect him or her from you? The staff can easily compound complications if you are not able to directly inform the doctor post operatively. Sure they might say to call a certain number after hours etc, but I also look at how easy or not so easy it was to work with the staff in getting my initial appointment etc. Like I said, I want the whole package.

    Hope this helps.
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