When it comes to your health, making informed decisions is important, especially when it involves serious matters like surgery. So if you’re considering spine surgery, such as artificial disc replacement, getting a second opinion can be a great way to ensure you have all the information you need to make the best choice for you. Here are some situations in which getting a second opinion can make a big difference.
1. You know surgery may be needed, but you want to make sure you have explored all of your treatment options first.
When ongoing back or neck pain stems from a damaged disc in your spine, artificial disc replacement may help. Removing the diseased disc and replacing it with a synthetic device that functions in a similar way can often improve debilitating pain. But if you still don’t know whether you’re ready to proceed with surgery, a second opinion may provide you with additional non-operative treatments that you haven’t tried before.
2. Your surgeon is recommending a spinal fusion.
Artificial disc replacement and spinal fusion are both used to treat symptomatic degenerative disc disease. Rather than replacing a damaged disc between two vertebrae with an artificial one, spinal fusion causes the vertebrae to grow together into one solid bone, preventing motion in the part of the spine that causes pain.
Though there are cases in which spinal fusion is the preferred treatment option, artificial disc replacement has some advantages. It allows your spine to maintain its normal motion, which may be more beneficial for the health of your spine in the long run. Also, recovery from artificial disc replacement is quicker because you don’t have to wait for vertebrae to grow together as with a spinal fusion. So if your surgeon suggests a spinal fusion, consider seeking out a second opinion to see if you might be a candidate for artificial disc replacement instead.
3. Your surgeon doesn’t perform minimally invasive spine surgery.
There have been major advances in spine surgery in recent years, including the development of minimally invasive procedures for many common surgeries. Using very small incisions and special equipment such as operating microscopes, minimally invasive surgery causes less damage to tissues in your body. As a result, this type of surgery has fewer complications, less risk of bleeding and infection, decreased pain, and improved recovery. If your surgeon only performs traditional, open spine surgery, get a second opinion from one who is experienced in minimally invasive surgical techniques.
4. You’re not getting answers about treatment costs or you’re worried that surgery will be too expensive.
If you are considering artificial disc replacement, you probably want to know what it’s going to cost. But if your surgeon isn’t willing to be financially transparent, a second opinion is helpful to provide you with that important information. Most people wouldn’t go into a store and buy something without looking at the price, so why should you do that with your medical bills?
5. Something just doesn’t “feel right.”
Is your surgeon dismissing your concerns? Are you unsure if your diagnosis is correct? Do you feel uncomfortable about proceeding with your surgeon’s treatment plan? If you’re seeing red flags, don’t dismiss them. Get a second opinion instead. Find a surgeon who makes you feel confident, respected, and well-informed regarding all of your medical decisions.
At DISC Sports and Spine Center, we want our patients to take an active role in their healthcare. If you need a second opinion before scheduling your artificial disc replacement, make an appointment with one of our expert surgeons to learn how we can help.
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..