Few of us expect to ever to need a neck surgeon, until that day comes. Asking someone to perform surgery on your cervical spine places you in a uniquely vulnerable situation. Unlike most surgeries, spinal surgery in the neck is incredibly delicate and requires great skill and expertise. Therefore, if you are considering neck surgery you should find a neck surgeon that is perfect for you. This may take work, but you owe it to yourself to make the right choice.
Find a spine surgery specialist
Anyone who is going to operate on your cervical spine needs to meet some minimum requirements. The only two types of surgeons that are qualified to perform surgery on the neck are neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Other types of surgeons may try to perform neck surgery, but is outside the scope of their practice. So, at a minimum, you should find someone who is board certified in either orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery. Once you have identified one of these two types of surgeon, is important to also make sure that the surgeon has completed a spine surgery fellowship. This fellowship is a year of specialized training that takes place after orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery residency. If you live in populous state, such as on the east or west coast of the United States, you should be able to find a spine surgery specialist reasonably close to you.
Do the research before your first appointment
So many sites on the Internet contain outdated, questionable, or simply incorrect medical information yet a majority of Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their medical research. This is perfectly acceptable if you use high-quality websites. The best sources for accurate medical information our government websites such as the National Institutes of Health, websites from professional societies such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and some physician websites. These sites will have basic information about neck surgery procedures, preparation for surgery, and information about postsurgical recovery.
Ask informed questions
You will want to make the most out of your consultation with your neck surgeon. To do this, you should develop a list of questions to ask before you set foot in the door.
Is the neck surgeon a spine specialist?
How many cases of your condition has the surgeon seen previously?
How successful is the surgical treatment your neck surgeon is proposing?
What is the complication rate of the surgery?
How long will it take me to recover after surgery?
What are my chances of becoming free pain and other symptoms?
Make sure you feel comfortable with your surgeon
Surgeons are not well known for being fuzzy and approachable. Their training requires them to be highly focused and precise at all times. Orthopedic surgeries among the most demanding surgical fields and spine surgery is perhaps the most demanding.
Nevertheless, if you feel uncomfortable with your surgeon for any reason, that person is not your perfect neck surgeon.
You should have all of your questions answered and you should feel satisfied with the surgeon’s responses. Trust your instincts. If something does not feel right with a particular surgeon, it probably is not right. Your perfect neck surgeon is fully qualified, but also someone who you can fully trust. Anything less means you should continue your search for your perfect neck surgeon.