Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

What are the top 5 things you wish your Surgeon had told you

EmilyEEmily Posts: 112
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am facing a revision for a failed PLIF. Knowing what I know now, here are the 5 things I wish my surgeon had told me before or even after the first surgery:

1. You will NOT be able to jog or even sit properly at 6 months out, despite what I told you.
2. Ongoing severe discomfort is not normal and should be checked out.
3. Here are the alternative approaches to your problem and here is how often they work and the different effects they have
4. I have performed x of these surgeries and my complication rate (by category) is y
5. Here is your followup schedule and what milestones I will be looking for and how I will check on them.

i believe that I would have made a better decision and taken earlier action around my condition if I were clearly told these things.


  • 1) That he would dump me after only three months post alif.

    2) I will never be able to do my profession again (construction) he said otherwise,I asked.

    3) I don't know the surgeon I referred you to.(he wouldn't take me).

    4) I have no desire to help you with your complications (his responses were hmmm I never heard that before,I don't know.

    5) I'm only in it for the money.

    17 months later several surgeons and still no fusion,getting ready for a revision surgery of which I'm trying to hold off so that I can participate in my daughters upcoming wedding.
  • 1. You don't really need this surgery.
    2. PT and time actually do help many people.
    3. Patience really can be a sign of virtue.
    4. I don't really care that much about you, but I do hope that you have good insurance.
    5. You should get another opinion.

    But most Drs aren't as honest as I am :P
  • 1. You have great insurance.

    2. This surgery will reverse your neurological issues

    3. This is an in and out surgery.

    4. You will be able to return to your career - pilot and law enforcement - had to retire.

    5. You need to go back to your Neurologist (dropped me), as I don't know what is going on now....


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • From surgeon #1:
    1. I'm sorry that the surgery didn't go as planned.
    2. Because of the nerve damage (substained during the surgery) you may never regain the full use of your right leg and foot.
    3. I would be glad to authorize more physical therapy to help increase your mobility and help you learn to walk with assistance.
    4. Let's develop a long term plan to help you get on with your life.
    5. It is clear you will need additional spine surgery and I would be most willing to work with the surgeon you choose for you additional surgery.

    From surgeon #2 who did 360 surgery:
    1. I can't fix the nerve damage already done but I may be able to prevent it from getting worse.
    2. Call me if you have any concerns and I will work you in my schedule instead of having wait >4 months to see me.
    3. Let me know if you need refills on your pain meds instead of us automatically cutting down your dosage.
    4. You may be on pain meds for the nerve damage the rest of your life and you will probably always need assistance to walk.
    5. It's a bummer. Let's develop a plan to maximize your strengths in hopes of avoiding further surgery.
  • I wish my neurosurgeon had told me about my now-failed L5-S1 PLIF:

    1. You have great insurance, so you're my best buddy.

    2. There will be NO follow up care and no PT..just a stack of prescriptions for pain.

    3. You will never be able to go back to work, but I won't help you with SSDI since you're only 47.

    4. I won't be able to tell if you really achieve fusion by radiography, but that's the only test I'll do anyhow.

    5. Sorry, but one of your pedicle screws has gone through the bone and is poking into things on the other side, but I didn't back it out at the time of surgery. Guess I must have been a little too busy. My bad!

    I don't wanna sound real bitter, but yea, I'd a liked it if he was a little more up front with the info.
  • 1 - the results may not be as gratifying as I said
    2 - successful surgery doesn't mean you'll be 100%
    3 - Challenge me when you don't see any improvement (e.g. I might tell you don't worry, give it time but you should feel better so if you don't, press me for another MRI sooner).
    4 - Your life will change...and you'll have to modify your activity
    5 - If this fails, here's the plan...

    I have to say for my 2nd surgeon?
    He was great. I think he prepared me for most everything. He told me it wasn't a sure thing, he told me the recovery was going to be longer, he told me I might only get marginally better, he told me what the plan was if the surgery failed or if I had complications, he told me a lot...he actually spent a TON of time with me before he would let me 'pick him' as my surgeon.

  • 1. You will need to double the recovery time that I give you.
    2. I won't give you any restrictions, but you will find out that if you aren't very careful, you will really hurt yourself.
    3. If I go in at the wrong level, I will absolutely deny that it was a mistake and tell you that I needed to do that, even though I will write in the surgery report that it was 'inadvertant' and there was no problem at that level.
    4. I will tell you at 3 months, that I don't need to see you again until 12 months, even though there is no sign of fusing yet.
    5. If you have any problems at all, just call me at home and I will be straight round to help you!

  • I can actually sum up what I WISH my surgeon told me preoperatively....

    1) the truth
    2) the whole truth
    3) nothing but the truth

    Instead I was sold a flipping unrealistic pipe dream!
    And of course when things didn't go according to his perfect plan, I got kicked to the curb!

  • I believe the OP had good intentions with the purpose behind this thread. Please be respectful enough not to let this disintegrate into a doctor bashing emotional rant.

  • Thanks C

    That's right. I'm really curious as to what matters from a patient's point of view and where there are communication gaps between us and our doctors.

    From my experience, the things that were (and are) most baffling to me are very practical ones. If we can all share this knowledge, then others facing surgery may be better able to ask those questions that only occurred much later to those of us that have walked this path.
  • After reading this post I am VERY GLAD I had an opportunity to see for myself how my Surgeon handled his surgery patients...I am a CA Comp case(Nurse) and live in a VERY rural area in Northern Cali...45 minutes away from the Oregon border style...yes WAY north...I work at our local hospital here and am lucky to have one of the best Cervical Surgeons in Southern Oregon and Northern Cali in our area(originally from Southern Cali) I got to work side by side with him and take care of some of his patients post-op and ALL of them were satisfied...I never ever heard one complaint about him...so when I got injured and Comp said my only choice(unless I wanted to drive to Southern Cali) was this surgeon I was so happy...I had seen many of his patients on the outside of the hospital up and walking(remember I live in a rural area) so it was nice to see some outcomes before going under the knife....I had a mere handful of questions because he answered all of them before I had a chance to ask them...now I'm not sure if he was so hands on because he knew I was a nurse and he knew me...but it seems as if he was like this with everyone I came in contact with...he even talked to my husband during my office visits to prepare him for what was to come...for example things he should get ready for me at the house while I'm in the hospital...how he is going to have to care for me like washing my hair after surgery...helping me to the bathroom ect ect...although my hubby was already helping...it was nice to hear the Surgeon talk to him and not only me...he gave us a step by step play on how the process SHOULD go...see ALL my hangups/complications were Comp related...example...nerve damage in my L arm is due to the delay of surgery...not because my Surgeon didn't request surgery on time...because Comp wanted to explore all options even though it was clear the only way to get me fixed was surgery and the delay would only make things worse....my Surgeon fought like hell right along side of me to get my surgery and when Comp approved some shit surgery he said NO I'm not doing that to her...I need to do this!!!! And he never gave up until Comp caved in...yes I did go through 16 months of pure hell...pain/spasms/and that awful burning sensation...and becoming less active as I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about...but it was never the Surgeons fault...he also said he isn't going to release me to the State MD who he thinks will push me into work faster to get me off the state payroll...even if I'm not ready to return...because of the delay in surgery I have had many complications prior to the surgery..but now feel I am on the right track....so I am sorry to hear so many of you have had such a different experience...when you've had a bad experience with any type of MD especially when dealing with surgery let alone spine surgery....it leaves a sour taste in your mouth and you are reluctant to trust again...I understand...I hope you all the best and pray that you all find a Surgeon like mine....take care all...
  • It sounds like you have a treasure there. :D
    Hang on to him!
  • 1. That some days I will be virtually pain free.

    2. That when I have bad days, they will be VERY bad.

    3. That I would be going NUTS being on practically the same level as an infant.

    4. That using my pool would be great for me but leave me down for a day in pain.

    5. That sitting for onnly a few minutes would be painful as heck.

    45 y/o, 5 weeks post op 3 level TLIF.
  • Oh for sure he's a keeper....especially after reading this!!!!!!!!!!
  • Sorry for all of you who went through surgery and are still suffering :(

    I will read this list again and KNOW what to ask my surgeon from it ;)

    PS: sara - welcome to the spine boards :) when you write long posts, could you please separate some of it into paragraphs - it makes it much easier for a lot of us with sight and/or brain/focus issues to read.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Sorry bout the long posts all splurged together...
    I'll keep my paragraphs separated from now on...;))
  • i still think he is a grate surgeon with a knife. one of the best. but his bed side manner after when things wore not turning out to good well#######not go there. i think after all the training docs have to go threw even the (bad ones) had a good hart to start with. and it was not all about the money.
    my case 1, the standard 80% success rate may not apply in your case.
    2, even though your 6mm herniation is small.it is smashing the nerves so bad that you may not ever get the feeling back in your foot or leg.
    3,after surgery -i should have did a fusion- because it looked like a sludge hammer smashed the disk and the micro- D was just a band aide.
    4, you will prob never be able to work in construction again.if you can work at all.
    5, you should be happy that all the time #10 pain is down to a #5 and you will probably have it for the rest of your life because you do not have enough room between the disc space and the nerves to even allow room for fusion material(what is that about=got that good news from my neurosurgeon)
Sign In or Register to comment.