Nineteen years ago, I had a laminectomy, a major spine operation that removes a portion of the vertebral bone. I didn’t have any problems until this past year when I started experiencing intense back pain that would radiate down my legs all the way to my ankles. I tried taking over-the-counter pain relievers and tried exercises I learned in physical therapy, but nothing was helping. On top of that, my job is very physical; I’m often standing or walking for long periods of time which would aggravate the pain.
Eventually, I went to see my primary care physician who put me in contact with the same surgeon who performed my laminectomy. He recommended that I undergo another laminectomy and a discectomy, removal of abnormal disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord.
I wasn’t too excited when I heard this, so I wanted to have a second opinion to make sure my diagnosis was accurate and to confirm that surgery was the best way to proceed. Fortunately, my Ohio Laborers Benefits offers Grand Rounds as a free benefit to its employees. It was exactly what I was looking for.
I reached out to Grand Rounds for a second opinion and was matched with Dr. Eric Elowitz, a top neurological surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Elowitz reviewed all of my records and wrote up an opinion on my case that answered every question I had. The opinion explained my condition in great detail. And while it did not change my course of care, the expert did recommend moving forward with a less invasive surgery.
“After reviewing Dave’s records, I felt that if surgery was needed, I would favor just a microdiscectomy. The reason for this is that a laminectomy is a more extensive surgery and was not needed in Dave’s case. A microdiscectomy is a common procedure which can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion. The procedure usually takes about 40 minutes, and patients go home within a few hours,” said Dr. Elowitz.
Overall, while the opinion did not dramatically change my course of care, I was able to move forward with a less invasive procedure based on my expert opinion. Just knowing that the procedure I was going to move forward with was appropriate gave me peace of mind.