Neurosurgery is not to be taken lightly. While some procedures are riskier than others, even the most “routine” of surgeries are not going to feel routine to you. Even if you’re in the capable hands of one of Atlanta’s top neurosurgeons, the prospect of going under the knife can be intimidating at best. Knowledge is power, so before agreeing to undergo any surgery, you are entitled to obtain as much information about the procedure as possible. This includes the preparation, the risks, recovery, prognosis — whatever you need in order to feel comfortable with it. You are also entitled to research the surgeon’s experience and certifications to be sure you’re working with one of the top surgeons in Atlanta. Here are 15 important questions to ask your neurosurgeon before any surgery.
1. What will happen during the procedure?
It’s important to have a basic understanding of the step-by-step process of the procedure that is being performed.
2. How much experience do you have doing this procedure?
Not to put too fine a point on it — any neurosurgical procedure is highly delicate, requiring great precision. The more experienced the neurosurgeon, the more confidence you can have going under the knife. Don’t just ask about how many years the surgeon has been practicing; ask how many actual procedures he/she as performed, and ask about the success rates.
3. Why do I need this surgery?
It’s important to make a connection between your condition and how the surgery will aid you.
4. How will this surgery help my situation?
While some surgeries may entirely correct an issue, other surgeries may only offer temporary or partial relief. Make your expectations clear.
5. What are the possible risks of this surgery?
As difficult as it may be to hear, you need to know what is at stake and whether you okay with the possible outcomes.
6. What are the probabilities of success with this surgery?
If the procedure’s odds are not in your favor, you have the right to question whether you should go through with it.
7. Have all our non-surgical alternatives been exhausted?
A responsible doctor will not recommend surgery unless non-surgical alternatives have been explored and exhausted.
8. What happens if I elect not to have the surgery? Will my condition worsen?
It’s important to consider what your life might be like without undergoing the surgery. Would you stay the same, get worse, or is there a chance for recovery without the procedure?
9. How long will the procedure take?
Typically, the longer the procedure, the greater the overall risk, especially of infection.
10. How long will I be in the hospital?
For some outpatient procedures, you may be able to go home the same day; other procedures require a stay of one or more days in the hospital.
11. What can I expect during recovery?
Find out the expectations for pain after the procedure, what medicines you’ll be taking, what equipment you may require, and if physical therapy will be required.
12. How long will my recovery take?
This question gives you a realistic expectation of your recovery timetable, so there are no surprises and you can be prepared to get whatever extra help you need.
13. Will I be able to resume my usual activities, and when?
Depending on your condition and the procedure, your mobility may or may not be affected in some way after the surgery. Get a realistic idea of what to expect.
14. How will we know if the procedure is successful?
Setting expectations and benchmarks for success prior to the surgery will allow you and your doctor to make informed decisions after the surgery.
15. What is my long-term prognosis?
Is there a chance of recurrence? Will this be an ongoing situation in your life or just an episode?
Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center is home to some of the best neurosurgeons in Georgia, including three who were named in Atlanta Magazine’s Top Doctors Issue for 2017. We are committed to providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about surgery. To learn more, call us at 404.256.2633.