← Return to C6-C7 bulge, symptoms are mild, doctor wants to do ACDF. Seems hasty.

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@jcford73 JC, getting second opinions about spine surgery is normal, so I don't think your insurance will question it. However, that takes time, and you would wait for a consult at Mayo. I think a second opinion at Mayo is a good idea, but that is your choice. I agree that a 5 minute meeting with a surgeon doesn't leave a patient feeling settled when this is a new sudden diagnosis and your head is just spinning. I have heard of Barrow and think they have a pretty good reputation. I looked and they are ranked #40 in the country by US News and World Report.
Mayo in Phoenix is ranked #26 for neurosurgery.
You can also look up individual surgeons in US News and World report.

One difference with Barrow is that it is a large physician owned practice, where Mayo is not. Doctors at Mayo are employees of the Mayo Medical Foundation and they get paid a standard salary whether they do surgery or not, so there is no financial bias in surgical decisions. One of my consult opinions was a surgeon at a physician owned surgical center, and it was just a 5 minute meet the surgeon and he told me what he could do. He was very pushy and scared me by telling me I had significant spinal cord compression and then refused to answer my questions about surgery. That may have been his personal style, but it left me anxious. At Mayo, where I had my surgery, my consult was much longer. The Mayo surgeon reviewed my imaging with me and explained the problem, and discussed my options. He answered a lot of questions. His nurse also answered a lot more questions as I was waiting for my surgery. I didn't feel like I was being rushed into meeting a quota for the number of patients that need to be seen to be profitable.

I spent a couple years reading medical literature about spine surgery which is how I head about Barrow. I also read a lot in Becker's Spine Review which publishes a who's who among spine surgeons and facilities listing thinks like Surgeons to know, and research that is being done, as well as surgeons who are elected to top positions at hospitals and spine foundations. I learned a lot by looking for research online from a doctor that I am interested in. Sometimes you can only find an abstract, but it tells you what their interests are. I also just trust my gut from the in person appointment. If the surgeon doesn't seem interested in helping me, that is a red flag for me. I also ask how long the ACDF procedure would be, and the answer at the doctor owned facility was 30 minutes, and at Mayo it was an hour and a half with the surgeon, and with a half hour of prep time before he steps in. I felt like they were taking time and using safety measures, and not just rushing through. The Mayo surgeon did 2 smaller surgeries a day or one major surgery, and the private practice doctor did about 10 ACDF procedures a day. That may be telling as to why they hurry through appointments. I didn't want to feel like I was on an assembly line.

This comes down to your decision to either accept your scheduled surgery, or to delay it and get a second opinion. You may want to contact Mayo and ask how long a wait there would be to be seen there. Then there is a wait to get on the surgery schedule, so you could be adding several months to the timeline. You would need to call your insurance too and make sure any facility is in network and that you have coverage for a second opinion, and that Mayo would accept your insurance. What can happen at private facilities is that a surgeon can be in network, but maybe a person doing anesthesia or measuring nerve function may not be, and there can be a surprise bill not covered by your insurance. Ask those questions so you will know that everything is covered because this is very expensive. At Mayo all providers are employees and not in private practice. You have to judge how you feel day to day and if you can keep yourself safe in your condition.

There may also be different ways to solve the problem. I did not want hardware on my spine because I was concerned about immune responses to foreign materials and metals in my body. My surgeon at Mayo did my fusion with only a donor bone graft and I stayed in a neck brace for 3 months. I had a lot of problems with metals in pierced earrings and had to give them up. Patients talk about being about to feel metal plates in their neck or pain related to hardware and weather changes.

What other questions do you have? What is your biggest concern?

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Replies to "@jcford73 JC, getting second opinions about spine surgery is normal, so I don't think your insurance..."

Thank you so much for your article my husband is having an issue with his spine. We went to see the orthopedic surgeon yesterday. He said to do mri, and pt, plus steroid meds ( if needed) back braces and come back to see him in 8 weeks.
The doctor seemed to be as expected./ steps forward to surgery. But I still uncomfortable with the future surgery even though the surgeon told us what the problem that the Lumbar 4-5-moveing sideways sometimes while my husband is in motion.
Now my husband has no pain after taking Tylenol 550 mg/ tablets a day for 5 days. We told the doctor about it. He said X-ray showed the problem, And I would like very much for my husband to do stretching and going to see physical therapy.