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Choosing a Surgeon

I had my second Neurosurgeon consultation today.

I found this physician to be more accessible, but I had to admit...last week when I saw the other surgeon, my pain was not optimally controlled so it was pretty hard for me to ask reasonable questions etc. And he told me a lot fo things but I could not remember them because all I could concentrate on was the pain.

So. The final call is that they both recommend surgery based on my films and my clinical exam, which demonstrates some weakness to my right leg.

Both have agreed that if I can get pain relief from an Epidural injection AND I can maintain my foot/ ankle strength where it is at and it doesn't get worse, I can delay the surgery for some time without risk of permanent damage.

The one today did say he believed I could return to running after this. (so that was LOVELY to hear). THe first one, I never asked because I was in too much pain.

I've accepted that I will need surgery. Now, I am having a very difficult time deciding who should do it. Both have excellent records, and low infection rates. (I work in Infection Prevention so I actually have access to all that). Both are specialists in the injury I have had. But somehow I am having a feeling that there may be a wrong choice.

How many of you did the second or even third opinion and when you did decide how did you choose?

Thanks. I'm pretty overwhelmed and to be honest, a little sad/scared, but reading that the microdiscectomy has a 95% success rate has helped me.


  • I had three opinions when I consulting about surgery. I did two orthopedics and one neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon turned out wasn't doing that type of surgery any more so his opinion I sort of just took for a grain of salt. The other two surgeons agreed that I needed surgery. Out of the two I researched and went with the one who did surgery the most and had good rapport with the medical reps. Also it helps to talk to some of the patients in the practice that have had your surgery to see how things went for them.
  • To select an experienced surgeon is one of the difficult task. You can check from the surgeons records and meet their patients personally. Discuss your problem in details with your surgeon and whose advise you think is the best one and go for that surgeon. Don't think negative before the surgery. Bet of luck!
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  • Over the last 5 years, I obtained 4 opinions from Neurosurgeons. All surgeons concluded that I would need the surgery eventually however, it was really my decision as to exactly when. I feel content knowing that 4 different Doctors concurred regarding my condition and that I had exhausted all other non evasive,Chiropractic & injections, procedures prior to having surgery.
    As for now, all is good. Back to work 2 weeks ago and feeling pretty well. Even back to the gym albeit a light workout. However, regarding running, my Surgeon stated that "technically" I could resume the activity in about 1 year. But, if it were him, he wouldn't.
    I may just "run" with this recommendation!
    Bilateral L5 spondylolysis L5 with grade I anterolisthesis L5-S1.
    Stable multilevel degenerative spondylosis contributing to mild canal
    narrowing L2-3 and L3-4.
    360 ALIF & PLIF L-4 - S-1 on 8/11/14
  • thanks for that. I have now seen 3 neurosurgeons, and a pain management specialist MD. I'm still struggling a bit with the decision, but I re-see the original surgeon tomorrow, and I think I will make a decision then. I am very glad to have everyone's contributions. It's a hard choice for me because they all seem equally equal. THe only one issue I have had is that the one surgeon's office staff NEVER return my phone calls, but....I don't want to base a surgical decision based on not returning calls....
  • Is very important. You want to be sure that when you want to get in touch with your doctor's office, they will return your calls in a timely manner. Since both of the doctors you are considering seem to be equally qualified, your personal experience with each of them becomes a decisive factor. You should select someone you are very comfortable dealing with.
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  • I agree. I actually told the MD at the last visit that While I wanted him to do the surgery that I was deeply concerned about the lack of return phone calls. He asked exactly who I had spoken to and wrote down all the names. He then looked at me and told me that they had been "trying to hire better office staff and this helps to know"

    At this point, both Neurosurgeons think that a miracle may happen and this disc will resorb. (sure wish he could have seen me almost faint in the grocery today.) so...I have some time to decide!
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