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Why it’s Important to be Educated Before Committing to Spine Surgery

When it comes to reviewing your spine condition and treatment options, making an informed decision is critical.

“Getting a second opinion is critical in making a decision about spine surgery,” said Burak Ozgur, M.D., director of the Hoag Spine Center. “We give second opinions, and we welcome our patients to seek them as well. We do this because we want you to be confident in the decision you are making.”

They say that to someone holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But the board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons at Hoag Spine Center believe that surgery should be a last resort. One patient champion of Dr. Ozgur, in fact, is someone who ended up not needing surgery at all.

Linda Lifur-Bennett, Ph.D., sought Dr. Ozgur’s opinion before undergoing an invasive surgery for back pain that had been recommended by another doctor. After performing a few tests, Dr. Ozgur discovered the source of Linda’s pain and determined it could be treated non-surgically. No surgery – by him or anyone else – was necessary. Linda was successfully treated and happy with the results.

“Linda’s story is one that underscores the need to seek out multiple opinions/recommendations. If you need surgery, we are among the best in performing spine surgery with the latest technology and advanced techniques. However, we always determine if that is your best option. Most patients with spine issues do not need surgery and instead can be treated with a conservative multidisciplinary approach,” Dr. Ozgur said.

What should you ask the Hoag Spine Center during a second opinion?

1. What is the diagnosis? Do we have an accurate diagnosis?

2. What are my options for treating this diagnosis? What are the non-surgical options for addressing my condition and how long do they last?

At Hoag Spine Center, the medical team encourages attempting non-surgical, minimally invasive interventions to alleviate back pain before recommending surgery.

“People who come to us with debilitating back pain are often surprised to hear our neurosurgeons say they might not need surgery,” Dr. Ozgur said. “In many cases, physical therapy, pain management and weight loss can help people avoid back surgery altogether.”

3. Am I a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery?

Not all surgeons address a problem the same way. Hoag surgeons are highly skilled in minimally invasive techniques and robot assisted surgery. They could offer alternative approaches that may provide more relief, fewer risks for complications and quicker recovery time.

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