Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon, Part 2

By the rediscover Patient Education Team

Having any major surgery, including spine surgery, is a very big decision. Asking questions of your spine surgeon is important to ensure you understand the surgical procedure, you have the correct expectations for the day of the surgery and your return to home and also understand your recovery process. As it can sometimes be challenging to remember all of the things you may want to ask your surgeon, we’ve prepared a list that you can print out and take notes on to help you to remember after your discussion.


Diagnosis Appointment

During this appointment be prepared to review and discuss any potential findings that prior diagnostic testing may have identified. Also be aware that additional diagnostic testing may be required, so some of the questions from your evaluation appointment may also come in handy.

Your practice will likely have individuals that will support the surgeon, since he/she may have limited time with you. It can be valuable to interact with his support staff if you have questions regarding insurance coverage, or other non-procedure related questions. Your goals for this visit should be to provide the providers with the information they need to fully diagnose you, to learn as much as you can from their evaluation of the diagnostic testing that has been conducted, and to make sure you understand the process (and timeline) moving forward.

Print out the below and bring to your evaluation appointment so you can ask your spine surgeon or their physician assistant or nurse practitioner.


Questions to Ask:


•   What is my diagnosis? What does it mean?

•   How confident are you in the diagnosis?

•   Are there other confirmatory tests needed?

•   What are the treatment options you recommend and why?

•   What are the conservative (non-surgical) options? What should I expect?

•   Can a conservative, nonsurgical intervention correct the source of my pain or will it simply delay a surgery?

o  If so, how long of a delay can I anticipate?

•   When should I start feeling better?

o  If I don’t feel better, what are my other options?

•   How will my condition progress?

o  Will it be more painful?

o  What happens if nothing is done?

•   If conservative treatment doesn’t work for me, what is next?

•   Am I a candidate for a surgical solution?

o  Which one?

•  Why do you recommend this particular treatment option in my case?

o  Are there any alternatives?


Keep an eye out for the next part of this series, coming soon!

Important Note: The patient information presented is for general education purposes only. As with any spine surgery, there are potential benefits, complications, and risks associated with disc replacement and spinal fusion procedures. Individual results may vary. It is important that you discuss the possible risks and potential benefits of various procedures with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your physician’s best judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a specific surgical procedure.

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