When you’re looking into spine surgery, you probably have many questions in mind. Questions regarding the surgeon, the procedure, the recovery time, and so on. Spine surgery is not an easy decision, and asking the right questions can be significant in assuring you make the right choice. Before you even consider spine surgery, make sure you ask these questions to give you some peace of mind.

1. Why Do I Need Spine Surgery?
The first thing you need to find out is the primary purpose of the surgery. Ask your doctor what are their goals in regards to the operation, is it to relieve pain? To reduce symptoms? Improve mobility? Prevent further damage? These answers will give you an idea of what to expect after the surgery.

2. What Type of Spine Surgery Do You recommend?
There are different types of spine surgery that your doctor can recommend. Ask what kind of procedure they believe is the right fit for your condition, and ask them to explain the procedures. Find out why that specific procedure is necessary. Also, ask them about the type of instrumentation they would use. Ideally, you want to get the broadest understanding of the possible procedures your surgeon is recommending.

3. Do I Have Alternatives?
It’s notable that for most spinal conditions, conservative treatment is always the first course of treatment. Talk to your surgeon about surgery alternatives and if they believe it’s beneficial to try conservative treatments before considering a surgical intervention. If you’ve tried conservative treatments on your own, talk to your doctor about those and explore another alternative with them.

4. Why Should I Choose Surgery?
Surgeons who perform instrumented spinal fusions or disc replacements are sometimes encouraged by surgical equipment manufacturers to push surgeries on patients. Talk to your doctor and see why they are recommending surgery over other treatments. Is it because they have a new procedure? Is it because they’ve seen in the past that this procedure can help? What’s the main reason behind your surgeon recommending a surgery?

5. Are You Sure of the Cause?
When it comes to spinal conditions, there can be many causes involved in one diagnosis. Is your surgeon aware of the leading cause of your condition? Will the surgery be performed to treat that specific cause? Surgeons should be able to review any previous imaging test you have, such as x-rays or MRIs to give you an accurate diagnostic.

6. What Are the Risks of NOT Doing Surgery?
If you decide NOT to go through with the surgery, what happens then? A qualified surgeon should be able to explain the possible pathway your condition will take. Whether it would be possible recovery after six months, or if your symptoms would significantly worsen over time. A surgeon should also give you examples of what would happen to your spine if you choose not to proceed with surgery; such as irreversible nerve damage that may lead to more serious conditions like myelopathy, foot drop or cauda equina syndrome.

7. What Are the Surgery’s Risks?
As with any surgical intervention, there are risks to look out for. Regardless of the type of surgery performed to treat your spinal condition, a qualified doctor should be able to explain the particular risks to that specific procedure.

8. How Many Times Have You Done This Procedure?
Now that you have a general understanding of the procedure itself, you also need to grasp an idea of your surgeon’s experience. A surgeon that’s familiar with spine surgery is always the best option. Knowing how many times they have performed the procedure being recommended gives you an overall idea of their experience with your issue.

9. What’s Your Success Rate with This Surgery?
Besides having certainty your surgeon is familiar with the procedure, you also want to know the outcome of those procedures. Ask them about their success rate with that procedure, and also ask them about the overall success rate of the surgery. Compare both statistics to see if you feel confident with the level of risk posed by the surgery.

10. What Type of Anesthesia Is Used?
The type of anesthesia being used is as important as anything else regarding the surgery. Before your spine surgery, you will want to know the kind of anesthesia that your surgeon will use for your procedure, how your body will interact with the anesthesia, and if there are any related risks of using that type of anesthesia. You might also inquire about the anesthesiologist background and experience.

11. What If Surgery Doesn’t Correct My Issues?
In some cases, surgery is not a definite solution for some spinal conditions. If surgery doesn’t correct your issues, what can you do next? Will another surgery be necessary to fix the problem? Would you continue with more conservative treatment? Your surgeon should be able to give you an answer on this potential outcome.

12. What about Recovery Time?
Most people want to know about the recovery time. How long after their surgery will it take for them to go back to normal? Even though recovery time varies from patient to patient, your surgeon should be able to give you an idea of how the recovery process be like.

13. How Will Post-Operative Care Be Like?
Although often surgeons explain the immediate post-operative care practices, you want to ask them about surgery follow up. Who will be at the follow-up appointments? Will your post-operative appointments be with your surgeon or their assistant? When will your first checkup be? How should you expect to feel by your first checkup? This will give you an idea of what to expect after the surgery.

14. How Long Will the Results Last?
Depending on the type of spine surgery your surgeon recommends, some symptoms can reappear after surgery. For example, if the surgery was done to provide pain relief and alleviate the symptoms, but it didn’t treat the underlying cause of the pain, most likely that condition will continue to advance and create issues in the future. Other procedures may show good results for a short time but in the long term may cause additional problems, such as adjacent disc disease often caused by spinal fusion. Ask your surgeon if this is a possibility with the type of surgery they are recommending.

Author's Bio: 

The Bonati Spine Institute is a world-class surgical center with locations in Hudson, FL and Las Vegas with a 98.75% patient satisfaction rate in treating many spinal conditions such as sciatica, spinal stenosis, herniated and bulging discs. The center offers The Bonati Spine Procedures, exclusive techniques and instruments designed for the most effective spinal procedures.