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#64 Surgeon Questions -

I was recently going through some of my Acoustic Neuroma notes and came upon these questions to ask your potential surgeon. On the www.ANAUSA.org  site, you will find most of these questions. First, click on the category “learn,” next “questions to ask, then “questions to ask your doctor,” and finally “questions to ask the surgeon.” There are also questions to ask the radiation doctor, and the audiologist, and the physical therapist.

I have taken liberties by changing the order of questions and adding my own comments here and there. The high-lighted words are super important.

  • This wasn’t the first question on the list, but it would be my first question. How many acoustic neuromas have you removed?
    • What methods of removal/treatment are you most skilled in?
    • What percent of your patients had to have further treatment because of regrowth?
  • What approach would you recommend in removing my tumor? Why? Other treatment options? Pros and cons of each approach. 
  • Where is my AN located (inner ear canal or closer to brainstem/cerebellum)? How large is it? Is it pressing on my brain stem and/or cerebellum? Does the location present any special/urgent risks?  What nerves are involved?
  • How much discomfort/pain should I expect from headaches and from the incision after surgery? 
    • What do you do to minimize post-surgery headaches? 
  • What is the likelihood that my remaining hearing will be preserved after this surgery/procedure?
  • Will this stop or help my vertigo/balance issues if I have surgery?  Or make them worse?
  • Do you feel that the facial nerve results or the hearing results are more important in the long-term outcome? How do you achieve their preservation and what are your success rates?  Do you electrically monitor the facial nerve during surgery?
  • How much time do I have to make a decision? 
  • What are my options for the best chance at quality of life? 
  • Will my tinnitus be less after surgery?
  • If I decide to watch and wait, what potential problems might happen?
  • Is total removal possible at this size and location or would you leave a small piece of the tumor to preserve the facial nerve? If any is left behind, what are my follow-up options?  Surgery?  Radiation?
  • For a tumor the size and shape of mine, what have been your results/outcomes when the patient chooses to remove it?  Especially considering my hearing is intact so far (if it is).
  • Will this surgery be done by a team of physicians with more than one specialty? Who? What is their experience with Acoustic Neuromas?
  • What has been your rate of surgical complications with respect to stroke, infection, bleeding, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak, headache, and death?  Any other negative complications?
  • If I have surgery, when and how often should I schedule follow-up appointments and MRI’s? 
  • How many days will I be in the hospital? ICU? 
  • Here’s one of my favorites and it isn’t on the list. If I were your mother, daughter, sister (depends on the age of the surgeon), what would you recommend I do? I use this question for other doctors as well.
  • How long is recovery?  Realistically, how long till back to work, driving, living a normal life again?

I can’t emphasize how important it is to have someone with you at this appointment. And it needs to be someone who will take good notes.

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Readers: Can you think of any other questions? If so, put them in the comments below. If you have surgery in your future, many of these questions apply to any kind of surgery.

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Dear Jesus, Help me to discern if this is the surgeon for me. This is so scary to think about, but I know you will be with me. Amen.

Get all the advice and instruction you can,

and be wise the rest of your life.  Proverbs 19:20


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