Getting a Second Opinion in Spine Surgery


Making decisions about whether or not to have surgery on your spine can be difficult. Getting a second opinion can be very helpful in your decision making process and can allow you to make your choices with more confidence.

Asking for a second opinion in spine surgery is not being rude or disrespectful to your surgeon – in fact it is showing that you are a person that is taking charge of your health and wanting to be as well-informed as possible.

Reasons you may consider a second opinion for spine surgery

  • Unanswered questions

If your original surgeon is unable to answer your questions about surgery or is vague about your surgical plan, then seeking another opinion may be a good idea

  • Feeling uncomfortable with your original surgeon

If you feel uncomfortable with your original surgeon then you may not be able to develop sufficient confidence in your surgeon in order to develop a strong doctor-patient relationship. This is important for successful treatment. In this case, you should seek a second opinion

  • Previous unsuccessful surgery

If previous surgery has been unsuccessful, then it may be wise to seek a second opinion before further surgery is carried out. Bear in mind that revision surgery is not frequently due to surgical error – many conditions can require further surgery.

  • To investigate different surgical options

Nowadays there are a number of different types of spinal surgery and differing surgical techniques are used between surgeons. In particular, the use of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery techniques leads to greatly decreased trauma and post-operative pain and improved recovery time, compared to traditional surgery. If your original surgeon does not offer these techniques, you may wish to consider a second opinion regarding your care.

  • Feeling unsure about the need for surgery

If you remain unconvinced about the need for you to undergo surgery, even if it has been recommended by a surgeon, then you may wish to ask for a second opinion to confirm the findings.

What to do after your second opinion in spine surgery

When considering spinal surgery remember that, although surgeons and other health professionals can make recommendations, the final decision about your treatment rests with you. Spine surgery is a serious and complex event, and you must carefully weigh up the information you have received.

In some cases the need for surgery is quite evident, and in rare cases it needs to be performed urgently. This may be in cases where there is pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. In other cases, the need for surgery is less evident. Arming yourself with as much knowledge about your condition and surgical options as possible (including getting a second opinion) can help you make the best and most well informed decisions for your condition.

Article Written by
Dr. Kaushik Das is a spinal surgeon in New York.

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