If you are considering having spine surgery, choosing a surgeon can be a daunting task. One of the first decisions to make is whether to look for a neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon.
Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons can specialize in spine surgery. In the past twenty years, spine surgery training has developed so that both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who specialize in spine surgery are equally qualified to perform common spine operations.
Neurosurgeons are either Medical Doctors or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. After medical school, they must complete a five to six year residency focused on the surgical treatment of neurological conditions. Neurosurgeon training includes the diagnosis and treatment of problems that involve the brain, spine, spinal cord, nerves, and intracranial and intraspinal vasculature.
Orthopedic surgeons are either Medical Doctors or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. After medical school, they must complete a five-year surgical residency focused on the treatment of the muscular and skeletal systems. Orthopedists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of bone and joint disorders, such as arthritis, sports injuries, bone tumors, trauma, spinal disorders, and joint replacement.
Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons can both receive extended specialized training in spine surgery after their residency by completing a spine fellowship. Completion of a spine fellowship shows that the surgeon made the extra investment in training to become better skilled.
In the past, the two fields were more distinct; in modern times, being an expert at a certain kind of spinal surgery has mostly to do with the specific training the surgeon received. Generally, orthopedic surgeons tend to be better qualified to do spinal deformity surgery. However, many neurosurgeons have also been trained in deformity surgery. There is a tendency for neurosurgeons to have more experience with surgeries inside of the dura of the spinal cord.
The most common reason for a back surgery to fail is an incorrect diagnosis. Having an experienced, skilled spine surgeon greatly increases the odds of getting a proper diagnosis and a successful surgery.
Questions to Ask When Looking For A Surgeon
For most spine surgeries, the real question to ask is not whether to choose a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon; the question to ask is which surgeon has the most experience with the specific surgery you require. A good surgeon with appropriate qualifications will not be threatened if you respectfully ask questions about their background:
What percentage of your practice is focused on the surgery I need?
How many of these surgeries do you perform every year?
What are the complications and risks this surgery?
Highly Rated Spine Surgeons
If you need surgery on your spine or if you just have pain that comes from your spine, call us at 888-8-AVALON for a consultation. Our doctors will determine the exact nature of your problem and provide you with a complete treatment plan, including medications, physical therapy, bracing, or surgery to correct the issue. Our award winning doctors and state-of-the-art facilities at Avalon Surgery Center in Glendale, CA are available to provide you with the utmost respect and highest level of personalized care. Our physicians have offices all across the Greater Los Angeles Area, within your insurance network. Contact us for more info at 888-8-AVALON.