If your doctor diagnoses you with a neurological condition that requires surgery, you probably have a lot of questions – and that’s a good thing. Here are some things you can ask your doctor or surgeon about, so you know exactly what to expect.
What Do I Need to Know Before Surgery?
First, make sure you understand what your diagnosis means. Ask your doctor about your condition’s history. Find out what will happen if you don’t do anything, to make sure surgery is necessary. Ask about all your treatment alternatives, including surgery, radiation or chemo/immunotherapy.
Next, ask your doctor why he or she is recommending surgery, and if you might need follow-up treatment. It’s also absolutely fine to ask about a second opinion. Your doctor should be willing to make a referral or hear input from another doctor you choose.
And finally, find out who will be on your surgical and treatment team. Your neurosurgeon will likely have many years of experience, but ask how often he or she has performed the procedure recommended for you.
What Do I Need to Know About My Surgery?
You may be awake during your procedure. Ask in advance so you’re not surprised. Although you shouldn’t feel anything, the National Cancer Institute suggests asking what the neurosurgeon will do if you have pain – during and after the procedure. You may have a headache or feel uncomfortable after surgery. Ask your doctor how you might feel and about your pain management options.
You’ll also want to know how long you’ll be in the hospital and learn about possible risks such as infections. Make sure your doctor has a plan to address any complications.
What About My Surgery Recovery?
Ask about any long-term effects after surgery. Brain surgery can sometimes harm normal brain tissue. You may need physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy to help you return to your day-to-day activities.
Find out how long it will be before you can get back to your normal routine, and take plenty of time to recover. Most importantly, follow your doctor’s instructions.