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Questions To Ask Your Spine Surgeon

Do you know which questions to ask your spine surgeon? While we are happy to address any questions you may have before your spinal surgery, the following are some of the most common questions and our responses. Being prepared for your surgery and post-surgical routine helps our patients be at ease and allows you to focus on your recovery.

Here Are 8 Questions To Ask Your Spine Surgeon


How many days will I be in the hospital?

Post-operative recovery depends on the individual type of surgery, but herniated disk surgeries typically require a 24-hour hospital stay. Times for other surgeries are as follows:

  • Spinal stenosis surgeries: 1-2 days
  • One level reconstruction surgeries with instrumentation and interbody cage: 1-2 days
  • Two level reconstructions: 2 days
  • Three or more level reconstructions with instrumentation and interbody cage: about 3 days

Dr. Antonacci’s hospital stays for cases are typically up to a day-and-a-half shorter than others.*
(*IMAST 18th Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 13-16, 2011)


How soon will I notice improvement?

Patients typically notice significant improvement once fully awake from surgery within the first day. Most often, they will notice that while they have surgery pain, they no longer have the type of pain that they had prior to surgery. Since surgery pain improves relatively quickly, this is very reassuring to patients, because they notice a significant qualitative change after surgery performed by Dr. Antonacci.


When can I start driving after my operation?

Each patient’s situation is different, so it is best to discuss this on a case-by-case basis with Dr. Antonacci.


When can I shower after my surgery?

Typically between three and five days after surgery, you may shower. Remove any dressings that you may have on, except the tape strips on your skin. Do not scrub over your wound area; just let the soap and water run over your wound as you wash the rest of your body. When done, pat your wound dry and cover with a little gauze and tape.


How long will my surgery take?

Dr. Antonacci’s surgical times are outstanding due to his meticulous expertise and his pioneering muscle sparing techniques. Additionally, Dr. Antonacci has created a specific surgical team that he works with consistently. Whether operating in New York or New Jersey, his team is with him. On average, depending upon the type of surgery, most surgeries will take one to three hours.  Average times for specific surgeries are as follows:
  • Herniated disk surgeries: between 30 minutes and 1 hour
  • Spinal stenosis surgeries: 1-2 hours
  • One level reconstruction type surgeries with instrumentation and interbody cage: between 1-1.5 hours
  • Two level reconstructions with instrumentation and two-level interbody cage: under 2 hours
  • Three or more level reconstructions with instrumentation and interbody cage: about 2.5 hours


How long will I have to wait to get my surgery done?

This depends on the type of surgery required and its preparation. Sometimes we can get a patient prepared for surgery in just one to two days; others may require more time. Dr. Antonacci and the practice strive to work diligently on behalf of our patients because we understand the pain they are enduring and know how much we can help to restore them to their lives.


Will I have to wear a brace after my surgery?

Usually, Dr. Antonacci does not use post-operative bracing on the majority of his patients. However, particular situations (e.g., when a patient has osteoporotic or soft bone) are best treated with post-operative bracing; and is therefore done on an individualized basis.


Does Dr. Antonacci work with interns or residents?

Dr. Antonacci does not work with interns, residents or fellows (i.e., doctors in training). He does not teach in the operative setting or let a doctor in training do half the case, or open or close for him. While he has high regard for teaching institutions, and himself is a faculty member of these institutions, Dr. Antonacci’s belief is that he wants for his patients, whether in the office or in the operating room, the same level of care that he would want for his own family members. Therefore, Dr. Antonacci performs the surgery himself from start to finish, typically with the assistance of another fully practicing spine surgeon, and his physician assistant. We also have a dedicated OR staff specifically trained for spine surgery who work with us on our cases; this provides the optimal environment for successful outcomes from surgery.

More Questions To Ask Your Spine Surgeon

Our candidates for muscle sparing, less invasive scoliosis surgery correction have a variety of scoliosis types. Most have idiopathic scoliosis (adolescent, juvenile, or some forms of adult), or idiopathic “like” (i.e., post-syrinx decompression). But we have also treated patients whose scoliosis is associated with a syndrome, a neuromuscular condition or is congenital. Each case is individually evaluated and carefully considered. Most are at least 10 years of age, with or without remaining spine growth; have a thoracic, thoracolumbar or lumbar curve(s) of 30 to 80 degrees (some higher at the time of actual surgery).

Who Should Consider Far Lateral Interbody Fusion?

Any spinal reconstruction procedure is possibly appropriate for the far lateral interbody fusion (FLIF) procedure. Patients with conditions such as low- and high-grade spondylolisthesisscoliosisstenosiskyphosis, flatback or discogenic back pain may benefit from FLIF as a less invasive procedure. Blood loss and operative time is of special concern for patients needing spinal reconstructive surgery (*see below), therefore Dr. Antonacci’s approach is ideal for reduction of blood loss and decreased operative times.

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