Deciding Whether To Undergo Spine Surgery Or Not!
This is the most critical step towards preparing for spine surgery! Most spine surgeries are dictated by two factors, pain and nerve function. Any experienced spine consultant can measure a patient’s temperature, he can measure his blood pressure; but he cannot measure his pain. Pain is a very subjective sensation and hence, the need for surgery on the grounds of pain would be greatly dictated by the patient himself. If pain is severe enough to interfere with the activities of daily living,
if it is becoming a source of constant discomfort, if it is decreasing the patient’s productivity, then it is better to undergo a surgery as per the spine surgeon’s recommendations. If nerve function is affected, then depending on the severity and duration of the problem, as also coexisting disorders such as diabetes mellitus, the spine specialist may recommend surgical intervention. As mentioned elsewhere in this website, only if the risks of doing the surgery outweigh the risks of not doing the surgery; only if the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks of surgery in a significant way, would you be recommended surgery! It is important to realize this as nothing in life comes without an element of risk; even the simple act of walking out on the street is fraught with risk, which we know may sometimes be life threatening too! So, do not confine your life to months and months of futile bed rest for misplaced fears of spine surgery. Discuss the details of your surgery and its attendant risks with your spine consultant to quell any fears and to clear any and every doubt of yours! If you so desire, your spine surgeon or consultant can even arrange to give you references of patients who have undergone similar surgeries.
Taking Second Opinions!
Since medicine is an inexact science, it is always better for the patient to feel convinced about his treatment plan with second opinions. Every conscientious spine surgeon will welcome second opinions.
Preoperative Investigations And Assessment
Once the decision for surgery is made, the patient would have to undergo a battery of investigations related to assessment for “anesthesia fitness”.
These investigations would check the patient’s
- heart function
- lung function
- liver function
- kidney and related functions.
It is better to get these tests done on an outpatient basis so that hitherto undetected problems can be identified and rectified before the patient gets admitted for surgery. Additionally, after these tests, a general physician may be requested to evaluate the patient to reconfirm his fitness to undergo spinal surgery. At this time, it is important to make the doctors either general physician or spine surgeon, aware of any kind of drug allergy that the patient may be having. Painkiller medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen would need to be stopped at least one week prior to the appointed day of surgery, after consulting your surgeon and treating doctor. Smoking too would need to be stopped prior to surgery itself.