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Is your spinal surgeon going to do a good job?

pete81241pete81241 Posts: 1,194
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
How do you know your surgeon is going to treat you right? Some of us are so trusting...we lay on the table and put our lives in their hands. "he's a spinal surgeon, how can I go wrong?". My brother said "he's tops in the state" "he operated on the chief of staff!" HOW DO YOU PICK THE PERSON YOU'RE TRUSTING WITH YOUR LIFE?


  • Hi Pete,
    I totally empathize with what you're saying. I feel the same way. I am not excited about trusting someone to "do the best job they can" at my expense. Yes I too, am suppose to have the top Neurosurgeon in the area working on my back.. but truly.. what if he's not on his game? Maybe he's having a bad day?

    I actually have orchestrated "when" my surgery will be for myself. This works with my schedule of being away from my office but also works for the Doctor... It will be his first surgery after the Labor day weekend.. where he's had time to relax and take it easy. I hope it makes a difference!!
  • thanks for your thoughts...i dont really have the surgeon that worked on the chief of staff. i couldnt get him. but thats good planning by scheduling for when he's rested up and relaxed...
  • surgeon was the same surgeon that had done 3 back surgeries on my hubby over 10 years ago so it was a no brainer for me with who I would go to....we had known this doctor for over 10 years , my hubby is definitely what you would call a success story and I just trusted the man and felt comfortable talking to him. He took all the time I needed and answered every question I had...he is just an all around great guy. Now with that being said , the outcome of my surgery was not a great one but I never regret going to this doctor and when it is time for my next surgery , which will be sooner than later , I will use him again.

    Trust is a big issue and one that I think you have to take into account when choosing your surgeon. Do they take time to explain everything to you....the pros the cons and answer whatever question you have....how do you feel in their presence? Intimidated and less than or comfortable and at ease? Do they spend time with you or rush you out the door? These where all the things that I looked at and these were all the questions that were important to me.....this may not be the same way for everyone. But at the end of the day , isn't it just a roll of the dice anyway? There is no magic cure all anything so there is always a chance involved but a chance that most of us will have to take at one time or another. So good luck to anyone facing surgery and I truly hope that you find the perfect surgeon for your case.....take care....Miki
  • roll of the dice. that's for sure. you just dont know. your so right about the comfort factor. and years of experience is so important. i spent time quizzing physical therapists about which surgeon they liked. most therapists would cooperate and give their opinion...
    niki i hope the dice roll well for you come next procedure
  • Pete , I am not a gambler but I am believing that the next roll will end up a good one.....got to keep that positive thinking going!!!!! Take Care....Miki
  • Trust is a huge issue and I completely understand the trust that Priestess has in her surgeon and why. She is also right when she says "isn't it just a roll of the dice anyway".

    However there are certain things that I personally looked for in order to be in a comfort zone with the surgeon that I finally chose. Firstly I needed to be educated in how to interview a surgeon and to do that I needed to do the research and see more than one doctor each of whom was highly praised by one person or another. To do that I asked other doctors that I knew, who they would use for themselves or their children in the event that they needed a surgeon for a similar purpose. Secondly I wanted my surgeon to be a fellowship trained doctor working in a major medical institution where the money or fee for their services is not their main goal, and lastly, like Priestess I too wanted a Surgeon that I personally felt comfortable with who answered all my questions quite happily, without rushing me out of the door.

    Using those criteria, I made my personal choice and that is exactly what it is, a personal choice.

    Now that gave me a level of comfort and trust, but even with all that it is still a dice roll. However, at least that way I eliminated many of my fears and that is about the best us mortals can ever do.

    The real testimony is would you go back and again like Priestess, I would in a New York heart beat.

    John B
  • sounds like you really approach finding a surgeon in a rational way.
    some people are totally irrational because they are so upset with their predicament.
    another method i use to get a feel for a surgeon is to just spend time in his waiting room. the info and feeling you get just chatting with the patients can really help in making a decision....
  • I am absolutely anal about the important stuff and that is why I went great lengths to pick a surgeon. I consider myself very fortunate to have had surgery which so far seems to have been a major success.

    I however have other issues now due to a car accident in which my wife and were involved in just about 6 weeks after my spine surgery. Somebody pulled out of a private driveway and hit the gas instead of the brake and they "T" boned us and totaled our car with us in it. My wife had also just had surgery at that time and we were both injured from the accident although we are of course still alive thank goodness. I am going into hospital on Monday next for a torn meniscus due to the fact that both my knees went through the dashboard when the front of the car caved in. The second meniscus surgery will take place as soon as possible after the first. I thank the Good Lord every day that my spine surgery was not affected by the accident and thank goodness for seat belts too.

    However, on another subject, I am one of those who have chosen to stay in touch with Spine Health on a regukar basis as so many seem to disappear when they have been cured of their pain. At least that way I can offer the benefit of my personal experiences to others in the same way that I was helped before my surgery. This medium is, I am sure, a great comfort to many who come here for help and I am only too pleased to help in my small way if I can. I was helped through my spine surgery ordeal by "C" Hagland who is in my view an Angel. Her help and good advice was absolutely golden and I will be indebted to her always.

    Pete, thank you for your kind comment and I wish you well.

    John B
  • i didnt know of your accident. and yes you have a lot to be thankful for. one of mankinds biggest problems is not looking at what we have and being happy with it.
    youre right about C. AND THERE ARE MANY OTHERS HERE ON SH who have given themselves to the site.
    i wish you the best with your future surgeries. the accident sounds terrible...did your wife sustain any injuries from the crash?....
  • My wife had severe bruising from her seat belts and that is still a problem. She had just completed seven and a half hours of foot reconstruction surgery in two procedures and that included serious amounts of hardware screws bolts and rods and five fusings including having her foot sawn in half and reset to re-establish the arch. Now, following the accident, one of her fusings is not healing as fast as the rest and she has been fitted with a bone stimulator which she has to wear 10 hours each day. We are hoping that she will be out of pain and able to walk independently by about March of next year, so it is all a bit of a struggle. However we both seem to be able to keep smiling between the pain somehow and we are thankful for each other and every day that we have on this earth..

    Thank you for asking about us and thank you also for your kind and good wishes. We are deeply grateful and my wife thanks you also.

    John B
  • is always a risk. My GP chose mine for me really, saying he was the best. I liked him, he told me he does 2 of my types of surgery every week, I Googled him, I spoke to an ex patient whose phone number he gave me and I found another few ex-patients of his who all said he was brilliant. I didn't hear a bad word against him. But anyone can have a bad day. My surgery was scheduled just prior to his holiday - he brought forward my surgery so he could go away. So I was a bit concerned about that, that I was his last patient before his holiday. Would his mind be on the job? Was he tired and in need of this holiday?

    I was lucky and he did a brilliant job. But there are no guarantees. How do you trust a stranger? I don't think you can. You can only go by his record and hope for the best.
  • I had been to a surgeon who eveyone said was the best in the area, and he said he wouldnt touch me. I went to one who told me in one sentance,"I dont know why they sent you here, there is nothing to operate on", who was the most arrogant Dr I have ever met. I went to a State University, which was supposed to be in the top 5 for backs, and they wanted to have me go through a 2 week program on pain management, biofeedback, physical therapy etc. All in all, I went to 7 ot 8 before finding the one I choose. I choose him because the one prior to him had wanted to do three levels and have me off all pain meds for a month prior to surgery or wouldnt operate. He didnt take into account the pain level I was in or how it was nearly impossible for me to so that. I also had heard the more levels at one surgery, the more you risk in unfavorable outcomes.
    I met my surgeon and immediately formed a bond with him. He was there to do what was best for me. He told me what I had heard about the less levels the better outcome. I ended up with a amazing Dr surgeon who wrote a 6 page letter to my Ins Co to fight for my fusion. He went through 3 levels of appeals with me. All within 4 months. He has cancelled a trip to do my surgery when it was finally approved, so I could get it done before the holidays and the end of year, and start of new deductable for ins. He has been wonderful, and never sugar coats anything. He also is compassionate. I was blessed to find him.
  • that experience you had is such a great example of how to persevere when looking for the right surgeon. we keep hearing "DON'T EVER GIVE UP". you kept looking and it paid off. hope you feel better.
  • Well, I picked my spine clinic out of the phone book and that is how I wound up with my first surgeon, an OS. Actually, I went to see him after the physiatrist referred me. I failed all conservative measures at the time, and both doctors belong in the same practice. My OS is well known and respected, fellowship trained, and belongs to every medical board under the sun. He talked a lot and by the time he got done I forgot what I wanted to say. He was nice but it felt like he was the principal and I the student.

    The following year I was referred to my NS with the same credentials but a bit younger than the last surgeon. I don't know what it is but I feel at ease and comfortable speaking with him. Is it the age difference? Maybe. But I like him a lot and that's why he's doing my next surgery.
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