Definition and Overview

A neurosurgery consultation is a medical appointment between the patient and a neurosurgeon. It is carried out before and after a surgical procedure.

The consultation is an important part of the surgical process and is performed to obtain crucial information that helps in ensuring the success of the procedure and patient safety. These include:

  • What type of surgery is ideal based on the patient’s condition
  • Whether the patient is eligible for surgery in the first place
  • The step-by-step surgical process
  • Pre- and post-surgical preparation
  • Medications
  • Possible risks and complications during and after surgery

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

A neurosurgery consultation may be recommended in the following scenarios:

  • The patient has been referred – Neurosurgery isn’t for everyone. Although sometimes it’s the first line of treatment especially if it’s an emergency, it is often only considered when non-surgical treatments failed to deliver the desired results or if the condition has already become worse. Before the procedure is initiated, the patient is first referred to a neurosurgeon for an initial consultation where he will be assessed to determine if he is eligible for surgery. During the consultation, the neurosurgeon will determine whether the benefits of the surgery will outweigh the possible risks and complications. Other details that will be discussed are the type of anesthesia to be used, recovery period, how the surgery is performed, etc. The patient is encouraged to ask questions and to get as much information as possible so he can decide for himself if he will go through the procedure despite the possible risks and complications.

  • The patient wants a second opinion – It’s every patient’s right to ask for a second opinion especially since neurosurgery is a possibly high-risk and delicate process. It may also be sought if the patient feels the first neurosurgeon has committed an oversight or did not handle the case the best way possible.

  • The problem affects the brain, spinal cord, and nerves – Neurosurgery is sometimes called brain surgery, but most of the surgical procedures performed are on the spine.

  • The patient needs pre- and post-surgical prep – Consultations occur not only before the surgery but also after particularly since complications can arise even after weeks or months of surgery.

The consultation duration can vary. It can take to around 30 minutes to at least an hour. Patients are expected to ask all possible questions during the appointment.

How Does the Procedure Work?

A patient who requires neurosurgery should go through the initial consultation. He books an appointment through a website or phone call. The doctor’s staff will then schedule the patient.

On the day of the appointment, the patient proceeds to the clinic or hospital bringing along the medications he is currently taking, medical records, and other documents that may help the doctor suggest the best surgical treatment. The staff sometimes provides a checklist on what to bring.

During the actual consultation, the neurosurgeon would ask about:

  • Present health problems or condition
  • Main health concern of the patient
  • Reason for referral
  • Medical history
  • Lifestyle (if the patient is a smoker, etc.)
  • Family history
  • Worries about the surgery

The neurosurgeon would then provide the following information:

  • Best possible surgical option (including techniques to be used)
  • Pre-surgical preparation
  • Post-surgical care
  • Other services including therapies or counseling
  • Expected outcome of the surgery

If necessary, the surgeon may conduct certain tests as part of the pre-surgical preparation.

Possible Risks and Complications

Consultations don’t have any risks other than the possibility that you may not feel comfortable with the referred neurosurgeon. Healthcare is a collaborative effort, so it’s essential the patient feels comfortable discussing health issues and other concerns with the doctor.

Reference:

  • Gasco J, Mohanty A, Hanbali F, Patterson JT. Neurosurgey. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 68.
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