The first thing you should consider is whether you truly need spine surgery or not. If your current NJ back specialist has recommended surgery – no matter how much you trust him – you should get a second opinion. You should look for a specialist that prides himself on exhausting all non-surgical treatment methods first. Even if you already have a specialist that prides himself on just that, it’s always good to have another set of trained eyes look at your spine.
If there is no way around it – if you need surgery because you can’t deal with your pain any longer and the methods you’ve tried haven’t worked, you can elect to have it at any time. Your NJ back specialist will educate you on the reasons you should or shouldn’t – to help you make the best decision – but ultimately will support you in whatever decision you make.
After you’ve come to the conclusion that you definitely need spinal surgery, the next question is what kind of NJ back specialist to visit for the surgery – an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. Both undergo different specialized training but with the same fundamentals. That means they can both perform most spinal surgeries. But, a neurosurgeon’s training focuses more on tumor removal while an orthopedic surgeon spends more time learning how to treat spinal deformities. So, you’ll want to take that into account when making your decision.
But there are orthopedic surgeons out there who are better at removing tumors than some neurosurgeons. Just take a look at his track record and go in and talk to him. Ask him questions and pick his brain. Ask him why he thinks you need this specific surgery and what will happen if you elect not to have it. Even if you’ve decided in your mind that you want surgery no matter what, ask him how he feels about alternatives. A doctor you can trust will always make sure each non-surgical treatment option (if it’s an option for your specific condition) has been exhausted.
Ask him if he was trained during a fellowship. Ask him who will be helping him during the procedure and about his aids’ training. Ask him specifically how many procedures he’s performed. You won’t insult him. You need to be comfortable with this kind of decision and, if he’s not willing or able to make you comfortable, he’s not the right surgeon for you.
Find out what percentage of procedures he does are spine procedures and find out how experienced he is with the procedure you need done. If you like an orthopedic surgeon for his experience, poise, and positive personality – you don’t necessarily have to go with a neurosurgeon just because you need a tumor removed.
One thing you should verify is that, whatever type of surgeon you choose, he is at least board certified. Just be thorough and comfortable with your choice.