Type of Surgery

Finding Your Ideal Neurosurgeon

Last updated: 02/23/2009

Neurosurgeons have a lot to live up to. They are, after all, uniquely qualified to look into our very minds and repair or rearrange the sensitive wiring that forms the network for our thoughts and emotions. The nature of a neurosurgeon’s work makes the task of picking the right one even more nerve-wracking. But to find your ideal neurosurgeon, you have to first identify what that ideal is comprised of. Here’s a checklist of possibilities to weigh into your decision:
Cost as a Factor
If money is a big concern in your situation, then cost can be one of the most immediate factors to address, as well as the most limiting. The fees that various neurosurgeons charge don’t conform to any sort of preset values, and so you will want to inquire widely. There may be huge cost gaps not just between two competing hospitals in the same city, but also between hospitals in different states, or across different regions of the US. Try to take a broad perspective when price-hunting, because the best bargain could turn up somewhere much farther than your default hospital.
Location, Location, Location
Balancing out the cost factor is the complexity of finding the right location. Perhaps one neurosurgical facility might boast better technology and lower fees, but if it is a plane flight away, that fact will influence your decision. Recovery and rehabilitation are two processes that most patients prefer to go through in the comfort of their own homes, or at least in the comfort of their hometowns. Many like to know that they have a support network of friends, family, and trusted physicians close at hand.
On the flip side, depending on the facilities available in your immediate area, you might find that the complications of travel and accommodation are negated by the benefits offered by a change of location. Do some investigation into the pros and cons of various neurosurgeons to decide whether location makes them worthwhile to you.
Invaluable Experience
Neurosurgery has a definite learning curve, and so one of the best indications of a neurosurgeon’s skill level is the amount of experience he or she has. Naturally, a surgeon who has performed hundreds of operations is a safer choice than one fresh out of med school, but there are other subtle factors to consider as well. Specialty experience is important—operations that fall under general surgery or even general neurosurgery are not as valuable as those that specifically pertain to you. Also remember that checking a neurosurgeon’s record is about dates as much as numbers; you want a surgeon who has accumulated successful operations in his or her recent history.
Other Opinions
And finally, a good neurosurgeon should stand out even without needing to sell him- or herself. Instead, the most valuable information can come in the form of what others say. Does he or she have a well-established reputation in the field? Ask other patients who have had operations under his or care, and use their opinions as valuable first-person accounts of your surgeon’s true professionalism, approachability, and skill. 

Last Updated: 02/23/2009

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