Advice on what to ask Neurosurgeon now that surgery is scheduled .

I am scheduled for ALIF and PLIF on July 19, 2019. I am really nervous, but I want my pain to stop. I have felt with lower back, hip, leg pain for years.  I had a MRI done in April and found to have an unstable spine. I was told I needed a spinal fusion.  When I went to my new doctor I thought it was for just an office consult.  I knew right away that he was the doctor I wanted to do my surgery.  So my husband and I left after signing the consent  and when we got in the car I realized that I should have asked questions.   So I need some suggestions on what I should be asking before surgery.    Thanks in advanced.



  • LizLiz Posts: 2,447
    edited 07/23/2019 - 12:08 PM

    Welcome ehduv 

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  • ehduv

    The link above has some great questions.

    I have had 2 of this type of surgery- it is major surgery and you should learn all you can before your date.

    For insurance purposes- definitely ask exactly who will be in the OR that will need to be compensated thru your insurance.

    Everyone needs to be in your network or you can be hit with unexpected costs. Get preapproval for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.

    I had an orthopedic for the bones and a neurologist for the nerves , anesthesiologists, and a nerve monitor specialist who was constantly monitoring the nerve function.

    How long is the surgery expected to take? This helps your loved ones what to expect- mine were around 5 hours each.

    Fully understand every piece of hardware you are going to get. Screws and rods? Shims? Bone grafts or all metal?

     Laminectomy? They are removing the rear portion of your spine. 

    I learned that once they do one or more levels- your spine may become unstable at adjacent levels- ask about this- I was very surprised at a 3 month post surgery visit to find out they had to go in again- this was most difficult news as my recovery from the first surgery was tough.

    Ask who and how long will be managing your pain post surgery. I was in a difficult recovery- found I needed more surgery- then sent off to “pain management “ doctors who I felt were very judgemental and were reluctant to prescribe pain meds??? I did finally find someone who was compassionate and helpful- after 2 failed attempts- so it can be trying- especially if you are in real pain. Second surgery was more successful so i was off the meds sooner.

    I was left with something called radiculothopy. Horrible permanent nerve pain in my legs. I am 2 years out from the second surgery and it is only getting worse. Ask about this.

    For me this surgery saved my life- i was in bad shape- could barely walk- but it also changed my life, permanently.

    I was a do it all myself type- now i am very limited. This was very tough, mentally. I try not to let it get to me but the reminders are constant every time you bend down, sit down, lie down, walk too much or do the things you take for granted. This may have been the most difficult thing for me as it is ongoing. The more i try to do the things i want, the more i hurt. I need to recover in between now. Just put new decking on one of the decks on my home. Took 3 weeks instead of 3 days as it would in the past. Frustrating.

    Don’t take this surgery lightly- i am not trying to scare you- but I certainly wished i had more information pre surgery- knowing what to expect helps me get through things.

    My 2 year anniversary is 7/27-

    Best wishes-

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  • To sum up my post above- I thought I would have surgery and get better- this spine surgery was more life changing and not that simple.

    Some have perfect outcomes, but i think many do not. I hesitate call it failed surgery- however for me it introduced other ongoing cronic issues.

    I could not walk at 52 years old. I had no choice but I didn’t expect to be affected for life with chronic pain. So I can walk- success- but i am left with daily pain. This is my new reality.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,830
    edited 07/31/2019 - 12:05 PM


    Please join July Surgery Buddies (the link is below) where you will meet other members either waiting on surgery and/or recovery. There is a lot of good information there.

    July 2019 Surgery Buddies 

    Take care and please keep us posted.

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