While many spine surgeries are considered to be "elective," chronic spine problems are debilitating and can significantly reduce your overall quality of life. As a result, if you are considering having spine surgery, it's important to find the best and most experienced spine professional for your procedure. However, finding the right spine professional can be like finding a needle in a haystack; you have no idea where to start. To help you get started, use the following tips for choosing the best spine surgeon for your procedures
Ask About the Surgeon's Qualifications
Just like you wouldn't let your plumber extract a tooth, it's important to make sure your physician has the proper qualifications. One quick way to determine this is to ensure the candidate is board eligible or board certified. In most cases, you will be able to quickly look up on the wall to see the physician's certification. You can also contact the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) at 1-866-ASK-ABMS (275-2267) to determine whether the doctor you're considering is actually certified.
Experience with the Procedure
Like most things in life, practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to spinal surgery. In many cases, the physician may suggest a procedure that is not commonly done, such as multi-level fusions. If this is the case, it would make sense to find a surgeon experienced with this type of procedure. However, you should always ask the doctor about their experience performing the exact procedure you need.
The Importance of a Fellowship
One great sign of experience and training is if the surgeon has a fellowship under their belt. A fellowship means the surgeon has spent at least a year working at a spine specialty center. During this time, the surgeon gains experience by working with senior spine experts on highly complex spine patients. While not every surgeon will have a fellowship under their belt, fellowships are extremely beneficial for extensive procedures, such as artificial disk replacement or fusions.
Ask for Patient Referrals
Simply put, nothing speaks more about a surgeon's qualifications and experience than their previous patients. Ask the surgeon if it would be possible to speak to their previous patients who have had similar surgeries. While all medical professionals must follow HIPPA guidelines, surgeons can get signed consent from previous patients who are willing to talk to you.
Before you have any type of spinal surgery, it's always best to get a second opinion. The more information you get, the more comfortable you and your family will be. You can start by asking the surgeon who they would recommend for a second opinion. If your surgeon gets defensive about you getting a second opinion or about any of the previous other questions, this could be a red flag. However, most physicians will be more than happy to refer you to another doctor to help ease your mind.
In the end, it's your back and it's of extreme importance. As a result, it's imperative you find the most qualified and experienced spine surgeon for your procedure.