Finding a surgeon
How do I pick a surgeon – let alone once I decide to have surgery??? I’m 72 and live in Southern California so have access to Cedars-Sinai, USC, and UCLA. I have spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 and L5/S1 as well as osteopenia at both hip and spine with hip being worse than spine. So far I’ve had three epidural injections which have been somewhat helpful and am getting PT which also seems to help. My major pain isn’t in my back it’s the worst at the back of my left knee. Post injections, the pain down the side of my left leg has improved. The condition was detected almost two years ago in a CT scan for another issue in the ER (diverticulitis) but symptoms have developed in the past year and I’ve had MRIs. Orthopedist said I’m a 7 out of 10 and will need a fusion to fix. One neurosurgeon said I’m not in urgent need of surgery. Another neurosurgeon (one who operated on my late husband and lives 3000 miles away now that I’ve moved across country) said I need a “proper laminectomy with screws” and I “will know” when it’s time to get surgery. He said to seek out a good surgeon – can be either a neuro or ortho surgeon as long as they are a spine specialist and to judge by who has had the surgery by that doc and how they did. Difficult when you’re a new inhabitant and have new PCP etc. but I have friends here who have each recommended surgeons, only one of whom they themselves have had personal experience with – the others did friends of my friends. I hear so much about Mayo but I don’t think that’s possible for me. Plus I am on a Medicare Advantage PPO and I’m seeing that maybe Mayo doesn’t accept that? By the time I’m ready I could always change back to regular Medicare I suppose. I am trying to avoid osteoporosis meds because supposedly my only option after having previously been on Fosamax, Boniva, etc. is Prolia but if my bone density and quality are poor, recovery from fusion is dicey. I looked up local surgeons on Beck’s and am going to see a USC ortho who was on Beck’s “20 under 40” list (I think that’s what it’s called.) Are there any other SoCal people out there who have had good experiences at any of our facilities?