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Microdisectomy - Shoud I switch Surgeons?

Hi all, I am new to this forum and, like many others have said, I wish I would have found this forum before.

Anyway, yesterday I found out from my Orthopedic Surgeon that I need to have a microdisectomy. He showed me the MRI and it was clear that I have a severe herniation in my L5, which explains why I have had pretty much non-stop pain in my left leg for the past couple of months. He said we could try an Epidural but from what he was seeing he was concerned that an Epidural would not do much and that i could end up with drop foot based on the herniation.

I don't really feel I need a second opinion becuase I first saw this Doc a couple of years ago when I first had what was a smaller herniation and he recommended PT and an Epidural. The pain went away and I had very little issues until a couple of months ago when the pain returned again. And this time he was actually planning on giving an Epidural a try again until he got the MRI so he was not trying to push surgery.

I gave the go ahead for the surgery but in the interim I have had another Doctor recommended to me and when I checked him out he is pretty highly rated. Also, this guy happens to be a Neuro surgeon so I am wondering if I should consider changing docs at this point for the surgery. Honestly, I am comfortable with my Doc and I do trust his opinion plus spine surgery is all he really does so it seems like this might not be necessary but at the same time this is back surgery.

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!



  • ben_indianabben_indiana Posts: 288
    edited 03/22/2013 - 4:20 AM
    The choice is yours. Usually people looking for a 2nd opinion are not happy with their doc or diagnosis or treatment plan. At the same time a 2nd opinion is never a bad idea. Many people have a really hard time finding a doc they are comfortable with.

    If the MRI is clear about the severe herniation and you doc leans conservative his opinion is probably sound. From everything I have seen on the site, some people go neuro while other go ortho. As long as the surgeon is a spine specialist of course.

    Also if you get a 2nd opinion and that surgeon feels surgery is the right choice you can still have the surgery with the original surgeon. Ha thats alot of surgery in the same sentence!!

    So that all takes it back to the beginning, the choice is yours. Any op especially on the spine is a big decision and should be weighed heavily.

    Good Luck!!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 03/22/2013 - 1:01 PM
    I'd like to offer another angle from which to consider your options if I may.
    Have you given consideration to the specific procedure and approach either surgeon has proposed?

    Stated differently, is it going to be a traditional open micro-d or thru dilators or transforaminal? Will it be with microscopes or cameras? Will lasers or hydrocision or grasps be used? How big will the incisions be? What will the collateral damage be?

    It's not criticism, just things you have the right to know and be informed about so you can make the best decision you can for yourself.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Thanks for the feedback and I do have some things to think about. My wife is really pushing me to meet with the neuro which means that will probably happen;-) And I know this is a huge surgery but on a certain level I feel like it might be kind of a "slap" to my Doc to seek out this other surgeon.

    Also Paul, thanks for bringing some of these other questions up that I should probably ask because all I know is that it would be a microdisectomy but I probably should get more details. I guess I am so frustrated with being in pain all of the time that I just want to get it done as soon as possible but I also know that if the surgery is not done right there could be some real long term issues.
  • Regarding 2nd opinion; a truly professional surgeon will welcome another set of eyes on the case.

    In the FAQ, at the top of this page, there are questions for the surgeon for you to consider and use to plan for the consultations.

    Also, your surgery is likely to be more successful if you do thorough research here, so you can understand, respond and prevent unnecessary issues and complications.

    You have the opportunity to learn from the experience of hundreds of surgical stories of the operation you will have.

    Good luck.

  • I am really learning a lot by reading this forum and I feel I am now better prepared to have a full discussion with whichever surgeon I choose. I think I have been a bit in denial about this because I have never had surgery and I did not expect things to come to this but I do need to be a heck of a lot more proactive in making sure everything is done correctly.
  • "I am wondering if I should consider changing docs at this point for the surgery?"

    My advice is to go see the Neuro surgeon suggested to you for a second opinion on your case. Then, see if you like/trust him as much as your 'original' sugeon.

    You'll find varying advice whether an "Ortho" or "Neuro" surgeon should be performing your back surgery... but my opinion is that the experience level of the surgeon in the particular procedure you will have, your trust in him/her, and how you get along with him/her make more of a difference.

  • I would definately get the second opinion. When I had knee replacement the surgeon who recommended it set me up with 3 other surgeons in town and another at a teaching hospital so I had 4 opinions, not all agreed but in the end I had the most rapport and trust with the original surgeon.
    Good luck.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Well I decided to get a second opinion from the neuorosurgeon but has turned into kind of a pain for a few reasons.

    First, the neuo's office, although they are nice, will not give any idea on how long of a wait I would be looking at for the neuro to do the surgery if he agrees with the original diagnosis. Secondly, for some reason they require a referral from another doc for me to meet with the neuro, which must be an office policy because under my insurance I don't need a referral to see a specialist. And since my original doc is not referring me I need to go to my primary to get a referral to the neuro. Honestly, I know getting a second opinion is a good idead but I would like to get this done sooner rather than later.
  • I saw 4 surgeons prior to choosing one. The first surgeon encouraged me to get additional opinions. I was glad I did my homework. They all agreed I had a problem and yet two were pushing me to book an appointment asap. The others were encouraging me to keep doing my PT and said that if I went further downhill to then book the procedure. Ironically the two that said wait were the busiest and in demand. Go with your instincts, do your homework. Ask for patient references, ask for references from PT's that have treated patients post surgery. I am glad I chose the surgeon that did the procedure. I am 15 weeks post op and had an open laminectomy/disectomy. My "type A " nature has made recovery a challenge and slowing down is tough. But I am doing well, pain is minimal but I know when I overdo it I will set myself back a few days. And, on the rehab side, shop for the right PT. The practices vary and although they all have the same basic education, styles and treatment varies. I saw 3 before I found one that has really dialed into my own goals. Good luck.
  • Honestly if I were to go to one surgeon, gotten answers and information that I felt comfortable with based on my own research, I wouldn't feel the need to go see another as long as I also felt comfortable with the surgeon him or herself.
    Microlaminectomy and discectomy at C7-T1 on April 26th.
  • Well, thanks again for all the opinions and I am wondering now if I may have made a mistake in even seeking a "second opinion" becausse it's dragging out the process. Not sure if this is common with Neurosurgeons, but it is has really turned into a pain, no pun intended, trying to see this super awesome neuro in my area.

    First, even though I have a PPO, they would not even schedule an appointment with me without a referral from my Ortho or my primary. My Ortho would not give the referral so I had to see my primary and I finally got that referral today.

    Well I went and dropped off all of my records at the Neuro's office and the staff, although nice, would not give any time line whatsoever in terms of when I would get to see the Doc and if he agrees with the surgery what time period I would be looking at. The best the could tell me is that "he will look at the notes and hopefully you will get a call in a couple of days to schedule an appointment to see the doc. If surgery is necessary, he is booking three weeks out unless it is urgent."

    Maybe this guy will be worth it but I had no issues with my Ortho and I was fine with having him do the surgery. I may be switching back depending on what happens here....
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