Questions to ask your surgeon

If you’re eligible for spine surgery, here are some questions to ask your surgeon.

Before you decide to have surgery

  • What type of surgery are you recommending? Why?
  • Please explain the procedure in as much detail as possible.
  • What is the natural course of my condition if it is not surgically addressed?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • What are side effects, potential risks and complications?
  • Please explain the risks and how they relate to me personally.
  • What if you get in there and see something different than you expected?
  • Do I need to donate my own blood? If yes, why?
  • Do you perform the whole procedure? Will any students/other surgeons be doing any parts of the operation? If yes, who are they and what are their qualifications?
  • Who else will assist you in the operation? What are the long-term consequences of the proposed procedure? Does this surgery ever need to be repeated?

About the surgeon

  • How many times have you done this procedure?
  • Are you board-eligible or board-certified?
  • Are you fellowship-trained in spine surgery?

What to expect after the surgery

  • What kind of pain should I expect after the surgery and for how long?
  • How long is the hospital stay?
  • May a family member spend the night with me in the hospital?
  • How do you manage the pain in the hospital?
  • Which pain medications will I be sent home with? What are possible side effects of these prescriptions?
  • Who can I call if I have questions after the surgery? What is the process for communication?
  • How often will I see you after my surgery?
  • What symptoms would warrant a call to your office?
  • What symptoms would warrant immediate medical attention?
  • What limitations will I have after surgery and for how long?
  • How long will I be out of work?
  • What kind of help will I need when I return home?
  • When can I drive again?
  • When can I resume normal household chores?
  • What expectations do you have for my recovery?
  • When is it safe for my partner and me to have sexual relations again?
  • How soon after the surgery can I start physical therapy?