Before going ahead with spinal fusion surgery, there are certain questions you need to ask. If in doubt, consider getting a second opinion.
Make sure you fully understand the procedure; don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s imperative your surgeon explains the common risks and benefits, as well as those specific to your circumstances. Knowing all the relevant information is part of informed clinical consent.
Questions for your surgeon
- Is this procedure really needed at this time or can it wait?
- What are the likely consequences if I delay it?
- Are there alternatives to this procedure in my case?
- What are the benefits of having the procedure?
- What type of surgery do you recommend and why?
- What type of bone graft do you recommend, and why?*
- Where will the bone graft come from?
- Will you be using bone morphogenic protein (BMP)?
- What happens during and after the procedure?
- Is there anything I can do to improve the outcome?
- What are your likely out-of-pocket medical expenses? (Your surgeon should be able to give you a breakdown of any costs you’ll incur – this is known as ‘Informed Financial Consent’)
- Will there be additional fees for blood tests, X-rays, CT scans or MRIs?
- Will there be additional fees for an assistant surgeon and/or a vascular surgeon?
- Will there be an extra fee for a physiotherapist or occupational therapist?
- Will I have a choice of anaesthetist?
- Will I be able to meet with my anaesthetist before the day of surgery?
- Will there be an additional fee for the anaesthetist? If so, what will it be?
- How should I prepare for my procedure?
- How many spinal fusion surgeries do you perform each year?
- What percentage of patients are satisfied with the results of the spinal fusion surgeries you perform?
- What’s your complication rate for this procedure?
- How long will I be in hospital?
- How soon can I go back to work, drive or travel?
- Will I need to change any of my medications after the procedure?
- Follow-up appointments (write down any questions or concerns you want to discuss with your surgeon.)
Tell your surgeon if you have any skin lesions, sores, cuts, or a raised temperature, as they’ll need to be treated before your procedure.
You can take most medication as usual, but some may interfere with your procedure. Your surgeon will let you know which medication (if any) you should stop, and when to stop taking it.
Don’t forget to mention any complementary or herbal remedies you’re taking, as these can have interactions and side effects too.
* If synthetic bone graft is to be used, HCF only reimburses those listed on the Federal Government’s approved prosthesis list.
Print out this page to take to your appointment with your surgeon.