Best Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Spine Surgeon or Neurosurgeon

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If you are a planning treatment of your neck or back condition, below are the best questions to ask when interviewing a spine surgeon:

  1. What is your infection rate? And along the same lines, what is the hospital’s infection rate?
  2. With whom do you operate? Do you have a resident, fellow, co-surgeon, or physician assistant? Specifically, what is this individual’s role in the surgery? Will you be in the surgery the entire time, and if not, what parts of the procedure will you not be present?
  3. I am sure that you have had some complications or at the very least some unsatisfactory outcomes over the course of your career – how do you handle such outcomes?
  4. How many dural leaks do you get per 100 cases? Is it one, ten or more?
  5. Do you utilize intraoperative neuromonitoring? Do you utilize Stealth Navigation technology and an O-arm when placing instrumentation?
  6. Would you be willing to allow me to speak with 3 patients who have had a similar surgery, perhaps from a specific period of time?
  7. Will you be going out of town or unavailable for any reason within several weeks of my surgery? If so, what surgeon do you have covering your patients if there should be a delayed complication requiring a spine surgeon’s expertise?
  8. How many times have you performed this procedure?
  9. How many years have you been practicing spine surgery?
  10. Do you collect data for research and/or to track your patient outcomes, complications, etc..?
  11. Do you work with specific anesthesiologists? In the anesthesia group contracted with the hospital, would you be able to recommend one over another, or is it possible for me to research the anesthesia providers and request a specific one?
  12. What is your fusion rate for lumbar surgeries?
  13. What is your take on bone Morphogenic protein for fusions in the cervical and lumbar spines
  14. What do you think about artificial discs? In the neck? In the lower back?
  15. How do you determine if a spine surgeon is any good?
  16. What is the difference between a spine surgeon and a neurosurgeon for the spine?
  17. What are the questions I should ask the surgeon before getting spine surgery?

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