Qualities to Look for in a Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon
Awake Spinal Fusion is a minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia. Instead of a lengthy hospital stay, you’re up and about in just a few hours.
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Qualities to Look for in a Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon

By Dr. Alok Sharan
Sep. 15, 2022

You can live a pain-free and active life by carefully researching each spine surgeon in your considered set of options and choosing the best one for your circumstance. Picking a minimally invasive spine surgery specialist based on your research puts you in the driver’s seat, empowering you to take your health into your own hands and make the right choice.

What do exceptional spine surgeons have in common? You’re likely to find a list of surgeons in your area if you do a quick search online. That list will probably be quite long if you live in a big city area. How do you figure out who’s reputable?

Here are 10 guidelines to follow:

The Best Surgeons Don’t do Surgery Unless it’s Absolutely Necessary

In some cases, surgery is totally warranted and needed. However, a good spine surgeon will make sure your other options have been exhausted first. All appropriate non-surgical pain management options — from physical therapy and anti-inflammatories to epidural injections — should at very least be considered through discussion and research.

You’ll need to find a surgeon who’s experienced in minimally invasive spine surgery if these methods don’t work after a while. As a result of this type of surgery, you’ll recover faster, have fewer complications, spend less time in the hospital, and you won’t suffer any tissue damage.

Find Some Good Testimonials from Patients

Another great way to learn about a spine surgeon’s track record is to read online reviews and testimonials. See what other people think about the specific procedure you’re looking into and the surgeon you are researching. How did their surgery go? What’s their long-term success rate? And is there a particular spine surgeon they recommend?

It’s important to research outside, unbiased sources even though the spine surgeons you’re researching will likely have patient testimonials and success story videos on their websites. Medical review websites let you read patient reviews and see provider ratings.

As a general rule of thumb in looking at patient reviews, a spine surgeon should show sincere and empathetic interest in patients, as well as be familiar about their lifestyle, goals, and what those patients hold dear.

Surgeons Who are Technologically Savvy and Use Innovative Thinking

There’s always something new in spinal surgery. Surgical techniques and procedures are always evolving as technology advances. Whenever you’re comparing surgeons, consider their willingness to innovate. Can they treat you without surgery? How do they know what’s the best approach for each patient? Do they research and explore new technology?

Choose a spine surgeon who is always looking for new ways to improve patient outcomes — whether through new surgical instrumentation and techniques or minimally invasive strategies. You’ll receive the most effective and least invasive treatment options if you pick a surgeon who considers cutting-edge techniques that are proven. Most, if not all, of today’s technologies have the potential to change spine care for the better.

Great Surgeons are Well-Trained and Very Experienced

You’ll want to choose a spine surgeon who is board-certified and fellowship-trained. Board-certified surgeons have passed a rigorous exam, indicating they’re experts in their field. Fellowship-trained spine surgeons have completed additional intensive training.

There are two kinds of spine surgeons: orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons. You might be better off with one or the other depending on your situation. A great spine surgeon will have wide-ranging experience in treating your condition and performing the exact procedure you need.

Teamwork Makes the Best Spine Surgeons Too

Spine surgeons need to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to provide the best care. A comprehensive treatment plan is developed by collaborating with other medical professionals. A chiropractor, physical therapist, nurse, pain management specialist, and psychotherapist can be part of this internal or external team.

Quality Surgeons are Perpetually Learning

There’s always something new in medicine, and the best spine surgeons keep learning. Staying up to date on new surgical techniques and technologies helps them improve patient outcomes. Attending conferences, doing research, or being active in professional organizations are all things they do. They’re open to learning from others and keeping an open mind in their field.

Bedside Manners are Important

Spine surgeons need intelligence and skill, but they should also be compassionate and communicative. If you have any questions, your surgeon should be able to answer them clearly and in language you understand. Nothing should feel rushed. If you can’t talk to your surgeon directly, have a point-of-contact who can answer your questions.

Many researchers and doctors are now encouraging complex spinal care protocol be implemented across all health care specialties to provide individualized and high-quality care for all current and future patients, all while creating a culture of accountability for physicians.

Minimizing Patient Risk is Key

It’s important for spine surgeons to do everything they can to keep their patients safe by using minimally invasive techniques, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and following strict surgical protocols. Surgeons with great preoperative and postoperative care boast low or no infection rates.

Take a Look at Their Success Stories

A track record of successful surgeries is probably the most important quality in a spinal surgeon. It’s best to find a surgeon who has done hundreds of similar surgeries. However, just remember that procedures using very new techniques and technologies are so new that you can’t find a surgeon with a super long track record.

What to Watch Out For

Be cautious about having the procedure if the surgeon won’t answer your questions, acts disdainful of questions, or doesn’t answer them adequately. To feel confident you have chosen the right surgeon for your surgery, get a second opinion. Also, be leery of any surgeon who:

  • Promises to fully “cure” you, which may indicate they’re not being realistic or giving you all the information about your specific circumstance.
  • Neither investigates conservative treatment options (non-surgical) or reviews your previous attempts at conservative care to make sure it was done right.
  • Uses scare tactics to influence your decision (even a pressing need for surgery can be handled delicately).
  • Makes you feel uncomfortable with your decision by discouraging or threatening a second opinion.
  • Recommends “exploratory” spine surgery in this day and age of sophisticated imaging and technology.

The process of dealing with back pain can be tough, but it’s important to make your own decisions about your treatment when looking for a minimally invasive spine surgery doctor. Awake Spinal Fusion can provide all the answers you need to make an objective choice.