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Kevin Gill, M.D. Answers Questions On Spine Surgery

Kevin Gill, M.D. Answers Questions On: Spine Surgery

Does seeing a spine surgeon automatically mean back or neck surgery?

No. Our first step is to evaluate the problem. We then look at all the options available to not only treat the pain but resolve the issue. For most people, surgery is not the course of action we recommend. Our goal is to get people moving without pain. If a nonsurgical option will work for the patient, I’ll make that recommendation. If someone needs surgery to treat the back or neck problem, they can count on me to provide the latest alternatives available, including minimally invasive spine surgery.   

Does spine surgery mean that I’ll never be able to move the same, and that I’ll have pain for the rest of my life?

No. There are many developments with materials and procedures that have improved spine surgery over the years. This includes new materials for implants and advancements in technology. Also, years ago people tended to experience more problems with spine surgery than they do today. 

Who is a candidate for cervical artificial disc surgery?

If you have these signs, you could be a candidate for cervical artificial disc surgery:

·      Sudden neck and arm pain

·      Numbness and weakness in the neck and arm

·      Loss of shoulder, arm, or hand function

·      Symptoms continuing for four to six weeks

Is it possible to correct previous spinal fusion surgery?

It depends on the patient. For example, I had a 54-year-old male patient with neck pain and weakness in his left arm, causing problems raising his left shoulder and arm. He had a fusion surgical procedure at another facility and for nine years experienced no problems. Then suddenly, he began experiencing debilitating pain and could not move. I saw him immediately at UT Southwestern. I found that his condition could be improved dramatically with surgery and a disc implant that used a new material. Using the new, innovative modular implant (which was developed after his previous spine fusion surgery), I was able to resolve the patient’s pain and weakness. This mitigated the need for more extensive surgery, as well as reduced dysphagia and a prolonged recovery time. 

Do you provide second opinions after the initial diagnosis someone receives – as well as after someone has already had spine surgery?

Yes. If a patient simply wants a second opinion, has already had surgery or another type of treatment, or thinks that the back or neck might have been misdiagnosed, I’m available to provide a second opinion. This includes severe lower back pain, a herniated disc, scoliosis, and many other situations or conditions.    

If surgery is needed, is minimally invasive spine surgery usually the best treatment for patients?

Because of advancements in technology and materials, there has been significant progress in minimally invasive spine surgery – as well as an increase in publicity. However, it’s not the right course of treatment for every patient.

I always use the least invasive procedure to correct a back or neck problem. I carefully evaluate the problem, determine the pathology, and assess the complexity of the condition. I then recommend options – whether it’s minimally invasive spine surgery or another alternative – to correct the patient’s back and/or neck problems.