There are a variety of laser spine facilities throughout thecountry and the world that offer endoscopic spine proceduresfor patients with conditions like herniated discs, spinalstenosis, and spinal osteoarthritis. However, if you have madethe decision to undergo this type of surgery, you should knowthat not all surgical facilities are the same. Not only do theyoffer different levels of patient care, but they also staffdoctors with different specialties and levels of experience.Whether you are choosing a surgeon based on the facility, oryou have selected a surgeon who performs surgery at aparticular center, doing your research, visiting the facility, andmaking sure you feel comfortable in the environment could beessential elements of your surgical experience and recovery.
What to Look ForThere are a variety of factors to keep in mind when evaluating laser spine facilities. Nearly alllaser spine surgeries will be outpatient procedures, so they will likely take place at ambulatorysurgery centers. Make sure that the facilities you evaluate are accredited by the AAAHC(Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care). This ensures that the surgery centerupholds a set of standards for quality patient care put forth by a non-biased, non-profitevaluation committee. Below are some other factors to consider during your research: • Location – How far are you willing to travel to reach a laser spine facility? Does the facility offer services, like a shuttle, for patients who are traveling from out of town and staying at a hotel? • Patient service – How are you treated when you call or visit the surgery center? Is the staff generally welcoming and informative? Are they willing to give you a tour? • Size – How large is the surgery center? What is the average doctor-to-patient ratio? How many laser spine surgeries are performed in the facility each year? • Recommendations – Does the facility come recommended by family members or friends? Are there any patient reviews of the facility that provide useful information?
Getting to Know the DoctorsEvaluating spine surgeons is as important as, if not more importantthan, evaluating laser spine facilities. You should choose a surgeonbased on several factors, including how much experience the doctorhas performing surgery on your particular type of condition, as well asthe doctor’s credentials. Patient references, word of mouth, andbedside manner are also important considerations when choosingsomeone to perform your spine surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask thedoctor for a list of patient references, board certifications, and otherqualifications. Additionally, meet with your physician prior to the dayof surgery. This may seem like a matter of course, but some laser spinefacilities have nurses, physician’s assistants, and medical assistants thattake care of most pre-operative consultations, so make sure they knowthat you expect to meet the surgeon at one of these consultations.
Conditions TreatedFind out what types of surgeriesare performed at the laser spinefacilities that you’re evaluating.You want to be sure thateveryone at the facility, fromthe surgeons to the staff, isexperienced in the pre-operative, operative,and post-operative considerations for yourparticular condition.
Talking to Other PatientsEven the most impressive certifications andcredentials should not outweigh real patientexperiences when you are evaluating laser spinefacilities. The facility can probably provide youwith a list of patient references, but lookingonline may give you more access to unbiasedreviews. You may even get a feel for howsatisfied the patients are just by visiting thefacility and taking a tour.