Spinal reconstructive surgery can often prove to be a daunting task for patients. Such surgeries are labeled “fusions” and require an extensive amount of work around delicate nerves, joints, and bones in the spinal column. They often require the use of some type of hardware. The immediate perioperative period, as well as lengthy recovery phase, can pose many challenges for patients and their loved ones. These challenges may include a long and arduous process of physical rehabilitation, emotional stress and anxiety related not only to the recovery, but to the associated period of disability and complicated pain control.
Due to the complex nature and substantial cost of many spinal reconstructive surgeries, patients, family members, surgeons and third-party payers should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of pursing this form of treatment. We believe this process requires a global assessment of the patient, and it should not be limited to purely a structural or radiographic assessment.
A more comprehensive assessment must start with defining the goals of the surgery and making sure both the patient and the spine surgeon view these goals as realistic. Other factors that must be given careful consideration include the patient’s level of fitness, the patient’s emotional and psychosocial condition, the financial impact of surgery on the patient, and the patient’s insight into the whole process.
In some cases, providing the appropriate care in areas identified as potential barriers to success can significantly improve the outcomes. In other cases, more conservative alternative treatments may prove to be more beneficial.
We can assist in pre-surgical screening for patients contemplating spinal reconstructive surgery in a number of ways. Our pain specialists can provide advice on surgical and postoperative pain medication issues to optimize the patient’s ability to participate in physical rehabilitation. They can also provide a second opinion about medical factors associated with success as well as poor outcomes in such surgeries based on a global assessment of the patient.
Our psychologists can provide comprehensive consultations with testing to shed light on factors that often get overlooked in the surgical work-up of the patient. They may be able to assist in identifying and treating factors that may otherwise slow recovery. They may also be able to identify other factors that suggest a less than desired outcome, which can help surgeons, patients and third-party payers in the decision-making process.
The Center is sympathetic to the intricacies required for success in spinal reconstructive surgeries, and it is committed to providing the necessary expertise to help create the most positive experience possible for everyone involved.