What is a Surgical Second Opinion?
A surgical second opinion is a completely separate consultation visit with a different spine surgeon or neurosurgeon. During that consultation, the neurosurgeon or spine surgeon takes a complete history of your problems and symptoms, reviews your treatment and its benefit (or lack of benefit), examines you, reviews your images (I prefer to do it with my patients, so that they can see where the problem lies when it is apparent on the images, such as x-ray, MRI, etc.), and goes over the cause of your problems and the treatment options available to you.
Sometimes patients seek these second opinions for surgery on their own. Sometimes, their surgeon, like Dr. Jeffrey D. Gross M.D., sends patients for these “second set of eyes” types of evaluations, and sometimes, they are recommended to get a second opinion on surgery by friends, family members, and/or co-workers.
What benefits does a Second Opinion for Spine Surgery provide for me?
Before embarking upon following one doctor’s recommendation for spine surgery, it makes sense to make sure that you have heard about all of the possible options for treatment. A second opinion from a Neurosurgeon or Spine Surgeon will help you fully understand the potential risks involved in a recommended surgical plan. Involving a second opinion surgeon, who is not expected to perform the surgery puts he or she in a position to provide independent advice and information for your own well being.
A second surgical opinion also provides for a fresh set of eyes on your problem, your images (such as MRI), and could cause you to be more objective in evaluating your own reasons for signing up for surgery. An article in 2009 from the Chicago Tribune explains when you need a second surgical opinion:
A second opinion for surgery also is best done outside of a health insurance plan or health system program, as to avoid the inherent conflict of interest those plans place on doctors and patients under the influence of such a system.
It has become my own practice to send patients away from my office to get second opinions when surgery is being considered. I want each patient to hear from a completely different physician, what other options are open to him or her.
The American College of Surgeons endorses second surgical opinions:
What motivated Dr. Jeffrey D. Gross M.D. into offering second surgical opinions?
Dr. Jeffrey D. Gross M.D. began to become more interested in providing a second opinion service for patients with spinal problems due to the wide variety of treatments available, ever-changing technology which affects these treatments, and seeing some patients frustrated with not knowing how to make a decision as to how to proceed. I enjoy educating patients as to the source(s) of their pain and other symptoms, and helping patients comes in many forms, even if just advice is given.
What if I am too far to come to your office?
In an effort to keep up with the times, my staff and I at SPINE can perform a satisfactory surgical opinion for spine surgery remotely. We can have you send in your films on CD, complete some forms, and then we can ask you questions by phone, followed by a Skype or Facetime “visit” to review our findings and discuss your options, including answering all of your questions. You don’t even have to leave your home or office to have a remote second opinion for spine surgery.
How do I arrange a remote or in–person second opinion?
Please email or call us to make arrangements to talk with Dr. Jeffrey D. Gross M.D. for your second opinion for spine surgery. Dr. Gross will need to see your actual images and review your medical records with you, including any doctor’s visits, injection reports, or other relevant medical facts. Those can be emailed or faxed on our secure lines.
Our Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gross, will provide a summary report for you of his opinions after your conversational visit with him that you can share with your surgeon.
Decisions About Surgery
Remember, surgery is your decision. It is our job as doctors to educate you and give you the best tools and help you make the best decision based upon the risks and benefits of doing surgery versus not doing surgery (or of various treatments). There are often multiple reasonable options for your treatment, and you must consider your own customized life and symptom factors when making a decision to have spinal surgery.
You do not need your doctor’s permission to get a second opinion, but you can ask. Here are some guides as to how to ask your doctor for a second opinion for surgery, particularly if you have to go through a “gatekeeper” primary doctor within a health insurance plan:
-Dr. Jeffrey D. Gross M.D.
Newport Beach CA and Henderson NV Neurosurgeon