I do think that a fusion is the correct procedure for your situation. Finding a great surgeon is not easy. Chech the section regarding questions to ask your surgeon on this website to understand what some benchmarks are.
If you are going to a university hospital, make sure the surgeon you talk to is going to perform the entire surgery and the fellow will sticktly be an assistant.
I have been thinking long and hard about how to discover who is a good surgeon and this is a difficult question to answer. It might be helpful to ask what the dural leak frequency is. I have about 2 dural leaks in every 500 surgeries generally including revisions so that might be a good benchmark question to ask. Is the dural leak rate 1 in every 100 or one in every 10?
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.