When you’re considering artificial disc replacement, finding the right surgeon is essential. You’re literally placing yourself in your surgeon’s hands, so you want someone whose skills and expertise you can trust. This may feel like a daunting task, but don’t worry: Here are some tips to help you make this important decision.
Use your network.
Referrals are a great source of information when you’re starting your search. Your primary doctor should be able to supply you with a list of recommended spine specialists. What about family, friends, or coworkers—do you know anyone who has had back or neck surgery? This is the time to ask about their experience and their outcome, whether positive or negative.
Check with insurance.
Just like any medical procedure, an artificial disc replacement costs money. So, from a practical standpoint, it’s good to reach out to your insurance provider to get a list of surgeons who are in-network. This will ensure you’re getting the best coverage and paying less out of pocket for your surgery. DISC Sports and Spine center works with most major insurance providers. For more information, request a consultation with a team member for authorization.
Read other patients’ stories.
Also with the explosion of the internet, many people are willing to be very transparent online and share their life experiences. This includes patients’ stories—their journeys through illness or injury and what they did to overcome it. Look for patients who have undergone artificial disc replacement. Their stories can provide you with an insider view as to what the surgery is like and what to look for in a reputable surgeon. Hear from real DISC patients, and learn more about their patient experiences in our blog:
- Ruby Rose Visits DISC for Two Herniated Discs
- Patient Story: Jennifer Grey
- Patient Story: Ballerina Back on her toes
Schedule a consultation.
Once you’ve gotten some referrals, verified which ones accept your insurance, and done some online research, you can start to narrow down your list. The next step is to schedule a consultation with any prospective surgeons. This is a great opportunity to discuss their approach to artificial disc replacement, ask any questions you may have, and get a sense of their bedside manner.
During your appointment, see if the surgeon:
Has a strong track record of successful artificial disc replacements.
Obviously, you want to be sure your surgeon is skilled in the type of surgery you plan on having. It’s OK to ask how many artificial disc replacements they have done and what percentage have had a positive outcome.
Also performs other types of spine surgery routinely.
As the saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” You don’t want your surgeon to suggest a particular procedure because it’s the only one they perform. Instead, you want to feel confident that the recommended operation is the best one for you. If your surgeon performs a variety of spine surgeries but says artificial disc replacement is the right solution for you, that’s a good indication.
Is board-certified or fellowship trained.
These designations signify a high level of knowledge, expertise, and competency.
Is proficient in minimally invasive spine surgery.
Recent advances in spine surgery have allowed for many procedures to be performed using minimally invasive techniques, but this doesn’t mean that every surgeon does so. Minimally invasive surgery involves much smaller incisions than traditional surgery, meaning less pain, fewer complications, and quicker recovery—all things that are important to you as a patient.
If you’re looking to improve your mobility and functionality with artificial disc replacement, make an appointment with one of the expert surgeons at DISC Sports & Spine Center. Often regarded as pioneers in the field, DISC surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery in a state-of-the-art outpatient environment. During your visit, you’ll see just how dedicated the DISC staff is to getting you back to an enjoyable and pain-free life.
About the author
Robert S. Bray, Jr., M.D. Nicknamed “Dr. Fix-It” by The Red Bulletin, Robert S. Bray, Jr., M.D. makes an art of helping the world’s most elite athletes return to push the boundaries of performance. The neurological spine surgeon, recognized globally for his thorough diagnoses and pioneering minimally invasive approach, is quickly redefining sports medicine, one champion at a time. Dr. Bray founded the state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) in 2006 located in Los Angeles, CA. Read more articles by Robert S. Bray, Jr., M.D..