How to Choose Your Denver Spine Surgeon

Since 2011, Denver has grown by 100,000 people to reach just over 700,000 residents. While many of the “natives” think this is overpopulation, it has also attracted a surplus of surgeons. One benefit is the ability to have choices in your Denver spine surgeon.
I have often thought from the perspective of a patient, what would I want in a Denver spine surgeon?
Over the last few years, numerous advances have occurred in spine surgery.

I would expect that in a metropolis like Denver, my spine surgeon was familiar with newer proven techniques:
  1. Minimally invasive spine surgery: Spine decompressions, fusions and tumor resections can all be performed using minimally invasive spine surgery. The advantages over traditional surgery are abundant, so it makes little sense to not seek a Denver spine surgeon using these techniques, if they are applicable. Unfortunately, many surgeons are still using traditional open techniques, which in many ways are outdated.
  2. Artificial discs: Artificial discs can be performed in both the cervical and lumbar spine. While not every patient is a candidate for an artificial disc, it tends to result in improved outcomes over fusion.
  3. Navigation: Certain spine procedures can be performed quicker and with less radiation when using GPS navigational techniques. While many surgeries do not require this, your Denver spine surgeon should be familiar with navigation if needed.

  1. ERAS: “Enhanced recovery after surgery” techniques are the most recent advancement in spine surgery. Using regional blocks and with minimal to no narcotic medications may improve outcomes. ERAS techniques fit nicely with minimally invasive spine surgery, so your Denver spine surgeon should be familiar with both.

Some Denver spine surgeons have prolonged wait times for appointments and the patients only seemingly see their physician assistants or nurse practitioners.  With a plethora of spine surgeons to choose from, there is little reason to have to wait for an appointment. Additionally, spine surgery can be very dangerous and requires tremendous thought before pursuing.  If you are considering surgery, your spine surgeon should be willing to personally meet with you to explain the surgery and then personally see you after surgery. Physician extenders are very helpful, however they are not meant to replace your surgeon.

Ask your friends.  If you know someone who has undergone spine surgery in Denver, they were happy with their results, this is the best advertisement for a surgeon.  

The confidence/ arrogance factor.  Surgeons by nature went into the field because they are confident and have some arrogance.  I surely would not want someone trepidatiously operating on my spine. However, your surgeon should also  have empathy and be relatable to your condition. Surgical training takes a long time for a reason, and everything cannot be condensed into layman’s terms, but any Denver spine surgeon should at least try to explain things in a way you can understand and listen to your concerns.

Is your Denver spine surgeon in network with your insurance?  The best way to avoid costly and surprise billing is to seek in-network providers.  If you have a common insurance carrier and your Denver spine surgeon is not in-network, you should be skeptical and possibly explore why.  On the other hand, some smaller insurance networks tend not to be in-network with many surgeons, so these patients may not have much choice.

If you have questions about spine surgery in the Denver area, contact our BOARD CERTIFIED spine surgeon.