Facing the possibility of needing spinal surgery can be both intimidating and confusing.
We believe in providing the safest and most effective care for our patients, founded on the principles of evidence-based medicine, research, and the latest techniques available.
In this post Dr. Ehsan Saadat shares his advice for things to think about when choosing the best spinal surgeon for you:
1. Verify that your surgeon has completed residency training in orthopaedic surgery or neurosurgery, and that he or she is board certified in their respective specialty.
Physicians who are board-certified in anesthesiology or pain management may be appropriately trained to perform spinal injections, but unless they have completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery or neurosurgery, they are not qualified to perform spine surgery.
2. Verify that your surgeon has completed additional advanced training in the form of a spine surgery fellowship.
Many spine surgeons will complete additional training in spine surgery after their residency, called a fellowship. A fellowship involves more specialized training in advanced spinal surgery techniques including spinal fusion, minimally invasive spine surgery, and complex spinal reconstruction.
3. Choosing a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic surgeon to perform surgery:
Orthopaedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons are equally qualified to perform most types of spine surgery. Both perform cervical, thoracic, and lumbar surgery, including spinal cord and nerve decompression, spinal fusion, microsurgery, and minimally-invasive spine surgery. Both types of surgeons complete four years of medical school before entering a residency in their specific field.
Traditionally, orthopaedic surgeons complete five years of residency training in the diagnosis and treatment of all musculoskeletal (bone, joint, muscle and nerve) disorders including those of the spine, whereas neurosurgeons complete residency training in disorders of the brain and spine.
Many spine surgeons will complete additional training in spine surgery after their residency called a fellowship. A fellowship involves more specialized training in advanced spinal surgery techniques including spinal fusion, minimally invasive spine surgery, and complex spinal reconstruction.
4. Ask how often your surgeon performs the operation that he or she is recommending.
Also ask about other surgical options, such as minimally-invasive surgery or motion-preserving surgery, and their relative advantages and disadvantages. Ask whether your surgeon has considered other options in treating the problem at hand.
These questions should not offend your surgeon. Most spinal problems can be effectively treated without surgery, and, except in rare circumstances, surgery should not be the first option in treating a spinal problem. If your spinal surgeon has not considered non-surgical options or has not discussed other surgical methods of addressing your spinal problem, it might be good to obtain a second opinion.
5. Ask where the surgery will be performed, and whether the hospital or surgery center performs a high volume of spinal surgery.
Also, ask if your surgeon is part of a multi-disciplinary and well-recognized spine center.
As with many other things in medicine, repetition can mean more expertise. Having surgery at a center where a high volume of spine surgery is performed every year might mean that more resources and advanced facilities are available and that systems are in place to reduce complications and adverse events. Being part of a multi-disciplinary spine center usually means that your surgeon works closely with a team of other providers.
6. Should I get a second opinion?
Many patients seek a second opinion prior to surgery. This decision is personal and should not offend your surgeon. In our practice, we see many patients who come to us for a second or third opinion from across the country. And in fact, we also encourage patients to obtain additional opinions prior to making a decision.
It is important to keep in mind that not all surgeons will agree on the exact nature of the surgery that is necessary, and different surgeons approach problems with different techniques. What should always be constant, however, is logical and well-thought-out reasoning for recommending a specific operation, and a discussion of relative advantages and disadvantages of other options.
7. Check out online reviews
Reviews are a great way to get a sense of what it’s like to work with a particular Los Angeles orthopedic spine surgeon. We are proud to have earned dozens of reviews from our patients. If you’re considering reaching out to us for a consultation, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to review what our patients say about us on Google, Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and Yelp.
Los Angeles Spine Surgeon Ehsan Saadat is Ready to Assist You
If you are searching for a Los Angeles spine surgeon, we hope you’ll reach out to us. We have locations in Los Angeles and Orange County. We also of course offer virtual consultations so that we can get to know, ask you questions about your condition, and provide you with your options for treatment.