A second opinion for Spine Surgery occurs when a new well respected doctor examines your medical data and gives you an opinion on your first doctors diagnosis and treatment plan. Normally, a second opinion will agree with your initial doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, and sometimes it may disagree. Keep in mind that gaining a second opinion does not always imply that the second view is correct.

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“At Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute, we see adults and children in pain. Consequently, we use our expertise and experience to make a difference in improving their lives.”
Richard Hostin, MD

Second Opinion for Spine Surgery

Isn’t it true that two professional opinions are better than one, especially when it comes to spine surgery? This line of reasoning appears logical and correct for major health issues, and sometimes for minor ones as well. When a patient seeks a second opinion from a doctor, the second view often sounds smarter than the first; although, the second view may not always seem like the best. Patients can benefit greatly from second opinions when deciding on treatment options. However, many patients become hesitant to seek a second opinion for fear of offending their doctor. Most surgeons are used to getting second opinions and have probably given them themselves. Therefore, patients will not insult their doctor when getting a second opinion before a spine procedure.

It’s vital to keep in mind that doctors do not have all the answers. Getting a second opinion might uncover treatment options you weren’t aware of. Degenerative disc disease and bulging discs, for example, don’t always need immediate surgery, and thus, doctors can manage this condition without it (such as pain meds, injections, and so on). Due to the history of second opinions, they are very valuable and benefit patients in making decisions based on the facts regarding their care.

Second Opinion Definition

A second opinion occurs when a new well-respected doctor examines your medical data and gives you an opinion on your first doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Normally, a second opinion will agree with your initial doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, and sometimes it may disagree. Keep in mind that gaining a second opinion does not always imply that the second doctor is correct. Patients may even seek a third opinion. The important question: does the diagnosis and treatment plan make sense?

Your surgeon should offer a detailed diagnosis.  In other words, before surgery, the surgeon should identify and validate what he or she plans to do by physical exam and diagnostic tests. Recognize that doctors will only conduct procedures that they are familiar with or feel comfortable with. A doctor who solely does fusions, for example, will unlikely explore disc replacement. Talk to health care experts with a diverse range of experience to get the full picture.

The Impact of a Second Opinion on Your Clinical Outcome

While your present doctor appears caring and has a good bedside manner, don’t allow that to stop you from seeking a second opinion, even though you’ve trusted them for years. Second views are quite normal, just as they are with any other important choice, such as buying a home or vehicle or even enrolling in college. Getting a second opinion might help you understand what you’re getting and why it’s required. Despite the fact that your condition is not unique, research suggests that you seek further medical advice. The doctor who gives you a second opinion may propose different treatment options or therapies, such as clinical trials, that aren’t available at your present doctor’s medical practice. Of course, there’s a chance the second view will agree with the first, but this does not always happen.

When to Consider a Second Opinion for Spine Surgery

Seeing another surgeon about a spine procedure is certainly a smart idea if you are not satisfied with the first doctor for whatever reason.

  • If a surgeon does not address questions regarding the reason for a proposed surgery, patients should obtain a second opinion.
  • If your personal objectives differ from the surgeon’s. For example, if you genuinely want to avoid surgery to stop your pain, but the surgeon says it’s your choice.
  • Go for a second opinion if you feel the referral was made based on financial matters rather than the very best surgeon for your procedure.
  • Get a second opinion if the surgeon does not want to perform the surgery in a hospital.
  • If the first back surgery did not work and the surgeon offers another operation, a second opinion appears to be a good idea. This is very true if more portions of the spine are fused together. If the original fusion surgery failed to stop the pain, additional surgery by the same surgeon may also not work. Further surgery will only relieve the pain when a very skilled surgeon knows (because of experience) exactly what will work.
  • A surgeon may ask a patient to seek a second opinion before starting with surgery. In these situations, it’s normal to allow the treating surgeon to choose the source for the second opinion because they’re the greatest judge of whose opinion they’d respect.

Seeking a Second Opinion for Spine Surgery?

It might seem difficult to choose a surgeon for a second opinion. The goal is to seek advice from a well-respected and great surgeon. At the Scoliosis and Spine Institute, we provide second opinions all the time.  Our award-winning and renowned surgeons have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide patients with the best medical advice available.  After all, our surgeons have completed thousands of spine operations and are referred to patients with the most complex spine problems.

Have you had Spine Surgery Before?

If you’ve already had a spine operation and are now being advised to have a second, more complex procedure, you should seek a second opinion. While a follow-up surgery appears normal, the reasons for it and the expected outcomes need a full explanation. A second opinion from a doctor can confirm the need for extra surgery. It can also help you manage your long-term health and well-being.

When it’s not Necessary to Get a Second Opinion

While getting a second opinion is always a good idea, there are times when delaying surgery isn’t possible or desirable. Many traumatic events will require emergency surgery.

What are the Advantages of Seeking a Second Opinion?

Getting a second opinion is very important if you’re planning surgery or another serious operation. Patients who are well-informed are better able to consider the benefits and drawbacks of various health options before making a decision. Other advantages of seeking a second opinion include:

  • Obtaining confirmation of a medical diagnosis as well as treatment choices.
  • Defending oneself against a misdiagnosis.
  • Another diagnosis is being considered.
  • Finding out about the most effective treatment alternatives.
  • Alternative therapeutic choices are becoming more widely known.
  • Obtaining mental tranquility.

However, if you have an urgent health problem, you may not have the time to wait for a second opinion, and in such circumstances, you should seek clarification and reassurance from your doctor.

How do you Seek a Second Opinion from a Doctor?

Here are some suggestions for getting a doctor’s name for a second opinion:

  • Request a referral to another reputable specialist in that specialty from your doctor, preferably from a different institution with a different culture and point of view.
  • Examine your healthcare plan’s provider directory.
  • Look up a spine surgeon in your area on the internet and read testimonials from previous patients.
  • Referrals to doctors can come from friends and relatives, pain management doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health care professionals.

Should you Inform your Doctor that you Want a Second Opinion?

Yes, you should inform your doctor that you want a second opinion so that the second opinion doctor can have the medical records transferred to him to review. This will also aid in maintaining open lines of communication between the two doctors since they will most likely address areas of agreement and disagreement.

What should you do in Advance of Getting a Second Opinion?

Request that your first doctor’s office provides your test results and other data to the second doctor after you’ve scheduled a second opinion visit. Call the second doctor’s office to confirm that he or she has gotten your records before your visit. To the second opinion appointment, bring any surgical records from previous surgeries as well as CDs of imaging studies completed within the previous year. Write down the concerns that motivated you to seek a second opinion in advance of your visit so that you may address them with the second doctor.


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If you or your loved one suffers from back pain from a spinal condition. We can help. Call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.