Neck Surgery

Posted by sevenzero @sevenzero, Jul 6, 2021

Who is the best neck surgeon at Mayo Clinic, Rochester?

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@sevenzero Welcome to Connect. There isn't one answer to your question. I am a Mayo Spine surgery patient, and I picked out my surgeon based on his area of interest matching my case. I had a collapsed C5/C6 disc with osteophytes compressing my spinal cord in the central canal and I was having pain all over my body from this which other surgeons did not connect to the spinal cord compression. I had been turned down by several local spine surgeons because they didn't understand my symptoms, so I knew I needed a real expert. I had already been seen by a neurosurgeon who also had extra years of orthopedic spine training who could do delicate procedures of cleaning up the foramen without removing discs which is something a lot of spine surgeons don't do. I had been seen by a deformity expert at the head of a department who was highly respected, and I wanted to look for someone with that level of training and experience. Then I started reading spine literature when looking at Mayo surgeon profiles and I found a surgeon who was a spine deformity expert, a neurosurgeon trained at Mayo in a 7 year neurosurgery specialty program, who then also had orthopedic spine fellowship training. In searching online I found he was teaching both cervical fusion and artificial disc procedures at conferences for other spine surgeons, and he had been at the head of his class with a full scholarship before he came to Mayo for advanced training. This told me he had a long track record of excellence and was respected by his peers. In reading one of the papers he co-authored, there was a mention of leg pain with cervical stenosis, and something called "funicular pain". I looked that up and found medical literature with cases like mine! I had just hit the doctor lottery and found and excellent surgeon who I knew would understand my case and everything the 5 others had missed. I wrote him a letter and sent the study in with my imaging for his review. This is the study:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111492/
I had also been searching for and watching any online video presented by a surgeon I wanted to see, but there were none at the time for this surgeon, so I looked at his photo and asked myself if he looked like a kind person. That isn't how you should choose a surgeon, but I was a scared patient facing a big surgery and wanting to avoid a path toward disability. I needed to convince myself I would be safe. It had been 2 years of searching for help and high anxiety after one surgeon in particular stressed how significant my spinal cord compression was, but then when I had issues with my legs not working right, he told me to go elsewhere to fix and rehab that and then I could come back for spine surgery. Really? No amount of rehab is going to fix leg pain caused by spinal cord compression and this doctor was clueless.

It took me months to get past that anxiety, but when I got to Mayo, and met Dr. Jeremy Fogelson, I knew I was in expert hands and I felt safe in his care. By this time I had learned enough about spine surgery that I knew he was answering my questions well and he offered to help me right away. I have a biology degree, had worked in science in neuroanatomy research, and had watched a lot of spine surgeon presentation videos meant to explain cases to other surgeons. This was the first time I actually was relaxed when meeting a new spine surgeon. He had passed all my screening tests, and turned out to be a highly intelligent and kind person… the kind of down to earth guy you wish was your next door neighbor. On my recommendation, my physical therapist has sent him several patients over the last few years, and he has helped all of them.

I had very successful surgery with Dr. Fogelson. He let me do a one level fusion without hardware, just a bone graft. I don't think a lot of surgeons will do that either, but I wanted to avoid potential immune responses to spine hardware components since I had allergic issues with metals in earrings. These problems can also develop later down the road. Are there lots of other great spine surgeons at Mayo? Absolutely. Some are orthopedic spine surgeons and some are neurosurgeons. When I got the patient survey in the mail after my surgery, answering multiple choice questions didn't say enough about how impressed I was with my care, so I wrote a letter to the CEO of Mayo at that time, Dr. Noseworthy, and I received a personal letter back from him thanking me for telling him about my experience, and that he valued working with Dr. Fogelson, and he told me that Dr. Fogelson was one of Mayo's best. So now if I had to give you one name for an answer, you know who that would be.

Dr. Fogelson sponsers a scholarship for academic excellence for biology or chemistry majors at Bemidji State University.
From his bio on the Bemiji State Alumni Association:
"Dr. Jeremy Fogelson graduated magna cum laude from Bemidji State University in 2000 with a degree in chemistry. He received a BSU full-tuition scholarship, funded, in part, by Joe and Jan Lueken. The honor student then attended the University of Minnesota Medical School. He did his internship and residency in neurosurgery at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education. He also did a fellowship in Orthopedic Spinal Deformity Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo."

Here is my story and another, and links about him. If you have further questions about any of it, please ask. This is the reason that I volunteer on Connect. I'm glad you asked the question. Thank you.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/biographies/fogelson-jeremy-l-m-d/bio-20055624
https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2019/01/09/using-the-art-of-medicine-to-overcome-fear-of-surgery/
https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2012/12/23/repaying-a-gift-scholarship-recipient-says-thanks-in-a-special-way/
https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2017/07/26/spinal-surgery-saves-teen-swimmers-mobility/
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-scoliosis-screening/

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Thank you @jenniferhunter. I found you answer very interesting, informative and helpful. All the best!

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@sevenzero

Thank you @jenniferhunter. I found you answer very interesting, informative and helpful. All the best!

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@sevenzero Thank you. I wish you the best. Are you looking to be seen at Mayo for your cervical spine?

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