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Finding the Best Spine Surgeon For You

  • Category: Spine, Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Jeremy Smith, MD
Finding the Best Spine Surgeon For You

When it comes to choosing a spine surgeon, making an informed choice is paramount. From alleviating chronic pain to restoring mobility, the expertise of a skilled spine surgeon can be life-changing. We spoke with HOI’s Division Chief of Spine Surgery, Dr. Jeremy Smith, to get his expertise.

Q: What makes a great spinal surgeon?
A: There are multiple factors that contribute to a spine surgeon being great. The foundation of this is having the experience and expertise specific to spine surgery. Great spine surgeons often have dedicated fellowship training in the field and devote their entire career to treating spinal pathology. Not only do they need to be able to have the clinical skill to diagnose and appropriately plan a surgical course, they also understand when surgery is not the answer and a more conservative approach is appropriate. In the operating room, they are confident, precise and move expeditiously. In this complex field, multidisciplinary collaboration is necessary, so being an effective communicator in a team building environment is a must. The great spine surgeon provides patient-centered care with compassion and empathy under any and all circumstances.

Q: What’s the best way to find a great spine surgeon?
A: A great spine surgeon can be found many ways. Sometimes a confident referral from family or friends who experienced a similar problem or surgery can often lead to a good surgeon. The primary care physician or physician specialist will often have valuable insight based on professional knowledge. These are the most common ways patients are referred.

There are many resources online to help validate the surgeon’s credentials and experience. Make sure they are board certified in orthopedic surgery or neurological surgery. Often you can understand their experience by their years of practices, the number of procedures they have performed and their success rates. Patient reviews can be a helpful guide. Consider the hospital or academic affiliation. Chose a surgeon associated with a reputable hospital or institution.

Schedule consultations with more than one spine surgeon to discuss the diagnosis and treatment options. If surgery is recommended, a great spine surgeon will walk you through the diagnosis, explains and show the imaging studies, outline conservative and surgical treatment options and do so in a manner that is collaborative, nonconfrontational and understanding. A good spine surgeon will communicate well and make you feel comfortable asking questions. A good rapport and clear communication are essential for a successful patient-surgeon relationship. Do not hesitate to get a second opinion, a good spine surgeon will welcome it.

Q: What else do you want readers to know about how to find the best spine surgeon?
A: - Word of mouth either from friends or doctors is often the best way to find a great surgeon.

  • Do not hesitate to get a second opinion
  • If you don’t feel the communication line is there before surgery, it never will be.