1. Pick the right surgeon. You are in pain with a spinal problem. It’s mandatory that the spine surgery is done properly so you can recover quickly and get back to a normal life. The best way to minimize complications is to be sure the people taking care of you are well trained and extremely experienced. Insist that your surgeon is a specialist in spine surgery and preferably fellowship trained. Insist that your surgeon is board certified and does not plan to do the surgery alone. Do not allow a nurse or non-spine trained doctor to be the assistant.
  2. Choose a non-teaching hospital. Teaching hospitals are great for medical students but when it comes to your back why have people learning during your spine surgery. Choose a hospital where the attending surgeon is the only one working on your back; even the closure of the skin is important.
  3. Choose a hospital that has a Spine Safe Operating Room. Spine surgery requires very specialized and expensive equipment. Many hospitals just “make do” with equipment that can be used for any operation. Visit the Spine Safe Operating Room to see how all of our equipment surrounds you for the ultimate protective environment.
  4. Choose the right Anesthesiologist. Going under anesthesia can be a risky endeavor unto itself. Make sure that EVERY anesthesiologist working in the hospital where you are having surgery is board certified. Also ask your surgeon to make sure there are no anesthetists, nurse practitioners, medical students, interns, residents, or fellows participating in any part of your anesthesia.
  5. Make sure your surgeon will be available to you for follow-up care. Make sure your surgical team will be available to you for follow-up care. Even taking your sutures or staples should be done by a member of the surgical team. If you need help it’s important to be able to speak immediately with someone who knows you. We pride ourselves on our excellent and humanistic post-operative care.
  6. And one more thought: Have realistic goals and expectations. Spend time with your surgeon to go over the risks, benefits, and alternatives to spine surgery. Because we have been doing this for so many years and spinal surgery is all we do, we can usually give you a good idea of the type of result you can expect. We are happy to spend as much time as you need to answer all of your questions. Many people find that it is helpful to bring a list of written questions. It is also nice if a friend or family member can come with you to our office to help you make the right decisions.