NJ Neurosurgeons Offer Tips on Choosing the Right Spine Specialist
Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) educates patients about the importance of choosing the most appropriate specialist for back surgery.
Morristown,NJ (PRWEB) October 11, 2013
Every day, over 15 million Americans experience back pain. Of those 15 million, more than 600,000 back surgeries are performed each year. With back pain on the rise, the number of physicians performing back surgeries has also increased, making Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) a lot more common. On average 80,000 Americans suffer from FBSS. So the question arises, how does one choose the right specialist? In order to help patients find the right specialist, the neurosurgeons at Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists (ANS) have launched an awareness campaign to include tips for choosing the right specialist for your spine.
Some of the most common failed back surgeries are a result of quick-fix solutions performed by physicians without the proper training. Understanding a physician’s background, education, and reputation are all important when choosing your specialist.
Make sure the spine specialist is adequately trained: Most people would be surprised to find that there is no requirement of surgical training for someone to call themselves a “spine specialist.” Although a medical license is required, medical licensure only sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients; it is not specialty specific. Most patients would also be surprised to know that their doctor performing spine surgery may not even have undergone a surgical training program. Don’t trust the surgical management of your spine and spinal cord to a doctor with no formal surgical training, who may have just attended an industry-sponsored weekend course on some new technique. Neurosurgical residencies last 6-7 years with surgical technique and spine surgery being taught throughout. Orthopedic residencies last 5 years with surgical technique and exposure to spine surgery. At the end of that training, orthopedists interested in spine surgery and some select neurosurgeons pursue advanced fellowship training in spine surgery.
- Consider a fellowship-trained physician: Fellowship training is an additional 1-2 years of training devoted to a specific area of expertise. This program allows physicians to train with recognized experts in their specialized field. For neurosurgeons this is an additional year where their expertise can be fine-tuned, often with new advanced technology. It is uncommon to find multiple experts with advanced spine fellowship training in one group. At ANS, 5 neurosurgeons are fellowship-trained in spine and hold national recognition in their specialty. They combine their expertise to improve outcomes and patient care. As such, ANS was one of the first practices in the Northeast to participate in a national outcomes database looking at outcomes in spinal care.
- The spine specialist of choice should dedicate over half of his/her practice to spine cases: When choosing a spine specialist, you’ll want to consider the newest and most groundbreaking treatment options. If the doctor of your choice is dedicated to handling spine cases, it is more likely that he/she will be trained on the most current treatment options available. Additionally, you’ll want to look for the surgeon’s success rate. The more successful a spine surgeon is, the better a patient’s chance for a successful clinical outcome. ANS provides patients with the most contemporary treatment options, and has the largest experience in the state with advanced minimally invasive spinal surgery with nationally ranked clinical outcomes.
- Choosing the right type of back specialist: When patients hear the word “neurosurgeon,” many think “treatment of brain disorders.” Although this is true, what most don’t realize is that neurosurgeons specialize in treating all aspects of diseases affecting the nervous system and supporting structures including brain, peripheral nerves, and spinal disorders. In fact, neurosurgeons focus on the spine throughout their entire education, with a select few devoting an additional year to fellowship training. That means that a neurosurgeon may spend as long as 8 years in intense surgical training mastering the art of diagnosis and treatment of spinal disorders. Dr. Jack Knightly of ANS adds, “This includes not only knowing how to safely perform complex spinal procedures (including spinal instrumentation and fusion procedures), but equally as important, when these procedures should be performed.” Neurosurgeons are also trained to manage problems involving the spinal cord itself, such as tumors that impinge on the spinal cord or arise from within.
For the average patient, both neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons are equally well qualified. When choosing the best specialist for you, it is important to understand your diagnosis and then choose the specialist who has the most experience treating your condition. “You should feel comfortable that all of your questions are answered and have trust in your physician,” adds ANS neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Meyer.
Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists is the largest private neurosurgical practice in NJ. Holding national recognition in their specialty, ANS neurosurgeons are affiliated with leading hospitals and health care systems and perform the most minimally invasive spine surgery cases throughout the state.
Don’t put yourself at risk. Trust an ANS neurosurgeon to diagnose and treat your delicate spine. For more information visit http://www.ansdocs.com or call 973.285.7800.