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View Full Version : New here - Dr. Frank Schwab or Dr. Thomas Errico?



Ladybird
10-19-2012, 11:29 AM
Hi there,

I am happy to have found this site, particularly as I am pre-op and looking for surgeon reviews. I am 22 years old with a double curve of 42 & 58 degrees and am scheduled for surgery in January 2013 with Dr. Frank Schwab in New York.

I have searched his name in this forum but was unable to find any personal accounts of surgeries done by him, only posts saying that he has a great reputation. On the other hand, some of Dr. Thomas Errico's patients are on here and shared how pleased they are with the Dr. and their corrections. Because they both operate in the same hospital, I am now considering switching to Dr. Errico because I'm very uncertain of Dr. Schwab as I came across a bad review on another site and its been stuck with me. I really don't want to have any doubts about my surgeon. If anyone has any information on either one of these doctors, that would be greatly appreciated.

Pooka1
10-19-2012, 11:53 AM
Hi Ladybird,

Welcome.

I just want to make a small point here that surgeons take patients as they come. If someone had a bad outcome, it doesn't follow that the surgeon necessarily did anything wrong. Some patients have co-morbidities that would prevent the best surgeon in the world from getting a perfect outcome I am sure. Some patients have scoliosis associated with various syndromes that can complicate the surgery irrespective of how superb the surgeon is. The surgeon simply takes them as they come and tries to help. Further, it is impossible to find a surgeon who does not have some of these cases that could have gone better, again through no fault of their own. Some patients are not surgical candidates and can't find a decent surgeon to operate. Others may be in the grey area where maybe only a top guy is able to hope to get a good outcome. And sometimes it doesn't work even for them. All the surgeon can do is lay out the stakes and then the patient decides.

Our moderator, Linda Racine, knows many of these surgeons and I think I have seen mention of Schwab. I think he is one of those guys who has done one bazillion of these scoliosis fusions and is active in publishing in this field. Because all surgeons have some bad outcomes, it really comes down to who has done the most procedures and who has the best training in my opinion.

Good luck.

Sharon

titaniumed
10-19-2012, 03:46 PM
That was a really good post, Sharon!

I have nothing to say other than I like Dr Errico’s webpage.

Welcome to the forum Ladybird....

Ed

jrnyc
10-19-2012, 04:42 PM
i think the surgeons mentioned most often on this forum in NYC
are Boachie, Lonner, Neuwirth and Errico...they are some of the top
surgeons for scoliosis...

jess...& Sparky

susancook
10-20-2012, 03:26 AM
Good luck finding the surgeon works for you! There is a list of the 29 best spine surgeons in the US...you may want to check that. Linda has it. Aside from doing your homework and finidning out if they do LOTS of adult spine and scoliosis surgeries....sometimes it is just a gut feeling on whether you can trust that person to take care of you or not. Gardenia had an initail bad experinec with one doctor, but went back and found him much to her liking after some problems the first time.

You are trusting the scoliosis surgeon with your life and so many have told me....once you decide who you want to go with surgeon wise, stop second guessing and leave everything thing in his/her's hands. I have not had surgery, but am afraid that it is in my future. I ruminate and second guess alot, so the above relax and let it go with your trust...has been helpful to me to guide my thoughts.

Best of luck! Susan

jrnyc
10-20-2012, 07:54 AM
ladybird...i would strongly recommend you get at least one more
consultation...it is good to hear from another top surgeon as to
whether they agree with what is needed for you spine...if they
agree on levels to be fused, approach to be used, etc...
as long as your insurance covers it, you have nothing to lose...
also...the top guys are top because they do so many scoli surgeries,
word of mouth keeps them busy....

best of luck with your decisions...
jess

LindaRacine
10-20-2012, 11:01 AM
I think Frank Schwab has a great reputation. All of Pooka's points are good ones. The best of the best surgeons all have some bad outcomes, many, if not most of which, have nothing to do with the surgeon's skills. I can only say that I would let Frank Schwab operate on me.

--Linda

jrnyc
10-20-2012, 12:08 PM
ladybird, once you are consulting with a top scoli surgeon, why
not go with the one who inspires confidence in you...the one you
feel comfortable with...if for any reason you do not feel confident
in Dr Schwab, after meeting him, that is a reason to seek another
consultation...
it seems like there are always a few problems with outcomes no
matter how good the doctor...so i would not recommend basing a
decision on one review you read...i would base it on your own reaction
to a surgeon whom you know is well qualified and has done lots of
scoli surgeries,....
what was YOUR impression of the surgeon after you met with him....????

jess

susancook
10-21-2012, 03:42 AM
I think Frank Schwab has a great reputation. All of Pooka's points are good ones. The best of the best surgeons all have some bad outcomes, many, if not most of which, have nothing to do with the surgeon's skills. I can only say that I would let Frank Schwab operate on me.

--Linda

Linda makes a very good point. Bad outcomes are universal. Some factors which lead to bad outcomes are the patient's factors coming into surgery, like obesity, smoking, osteoporosis, older age, poor nutrition, family inheritance of factors that would make one more likely to develop a blood clot, etc.

Many of the best surgeons take on the most difficult cases, so their outcomes are more likely to be a little worse than the surgeon that only takes the "simple" cases. So, it's not many times the surgeon's excellent skills, but the fact that because he/she operates in a university hospital or major medical center that they get the referrals from other doctors who don't want to take the risk.

Pooka's point is well stated that you need to feel confident and if you don't whether the person is listed as the best surgeon in the world, don't go with that doctor if you cannot just relax and put your faith 100% in that person to make the best decisions for you.

Best of luck! Susan

Ladybird
11-06-2012, 10:44 AM
Thank you all and I'm sorry about the delay in my response. I've been going through a particularly rough patch in my life and having a surgery on top of it all just seems overwhelming. I am seeing Dr. Schwab next week so hopefully I'll feel better once I speak to him at length.

Subtropical Gal
08-15-2015, 10:42 AM
Hi Ladybird,

Welcome.

I just want to make a small point here that surgeons take patients as they come. If someone had a bad outcome, it doesn't follow that the surgeon necessarily did anything wrong. Some patients have co-morbidities that would prevent the best surgeon in the world from getting a perfect outcome I am sure. Some patients have scoliosis associated with various syndromes that can complicate the surgery irrespective of how superb the surgeon is. The surgeon simply takes them as they come and tries to help. Further, it is impossible to find a surgeon who does not have some of these cases that could have gone better, again through no fault of their own. Some patients are not surgical candidates and can't find a decent surgeon to operate. Others may be in the grey area where maybe only a top guy is able to hope to get a good outcome. And sometimes it doesn't work even for them. All the surgeon can do is lay out the stakes and then the patient decides.

Our moderator, Linda Racine, knows many of these surgeons and I think I have seen mention of Schwab. I think he is one of those guys who has done one bazillion of these scoliosis fusions and is active in publishing in this field. Because all surgeons have some bad outcomes, it really comes down to who has done the most procedures and who has tg he best training in my opinion.

Good luck.

Sharon

I would like Linda Racine to send me a list of the top scoliosis surgeons but am new to this blog and don't know how to reach her to request this urgently needed list. Thanks for anyone that could contact her, send my message to her, or provide me with this list.
Subtropical Gal

titaniumed
08-15-2015, 01:33 PM
Hi Subtropical

I just wanted to say welcome to the forum..... Linda will see this post.

Knowing where you are at helps as traveling for surgery adds extra burden to the process.....If you can do it locally, that’s always nice.

Many here will recommend an SRS surgeon. They have a locator on the SRS site.
http://www.srs.org/
http://www.srs.org/find/

My surgeon is not on this SRS list however, he trained at TCSC which is where SRS was founded....
https://www.tcspine.com/about-us/dr-john-h-moe-exhibit/twin-cities-scoliosis-center

Surgeon selection for initial surgery is important..... I spent a few years in talks with my surgeon while finally making my decision which was pretty much based on pain. I turned out great even though it was no walk in the park.

All the best scoliosis surgeons will do residencies and fellowships at the leading scoliosis centers in the US.

TCSC

UCSF
http://orthosurg.ucsf.edu/patient-care/divisions/spine/resources/surgical-solutions/scoliosis-surgery/

HSS
http://www.hss.edu/condition-list_scoliosis.asp

Dr Lenke
http://spinal-deformity-surgeon.com/

This is something to get you going......

Ed

LindaRacine
08-15-2015, 03:50 PM
Hi...

Ed's list is pretty thorough, through I would definitely add Washington University in St. Louis. https://www.ortho.wustl.edu/content/Patient-Care/2389/SERVICES/Spine/Overview/Meet-Our-Physicians.aspx

The only thing I would add is that there are probably 50-100 surgeons in the US who regularly perform scoliosis and scoliosis revision surgery. The people who participate in this and other scoliosis forums represent a very small percentage of the actual number of adult scoliosis surgeries that are performed, so you can't really adequately judge surgeons by what you read here. Surgery by any one of the "top" guys can end in a bad outcome, and surgery by any one of the other guys can end in a fabulous outcome. My advice is to find someone who is convenient to you, and whom you feel you can trust. Do your due diligence, and check that surgeon out. Ask questions. Talk to references. If there was someone close by whom I felt was qualified, I would never even consider traveling to have this surgery done.

Best of luck with your journey.

--Linda

jackieg412
08-15-2015, 05:02 PM
I agree with Linda that the surgeon should be near enough to where you live that you can get there is a problem develops. Things may happen and a long distance commute is difficult right after this type of surgery.

ksmom0611
08-16-2015, 09:38 PM
I saw both Dr.Errico and Dr. Schwab for consultations. Have you met them both? I have heard that Dr Ericco is the top specialist there, but that's hearsay. You might want to meet each one, since there's a big personalty difference. I think you need to feel comfortable with the person you choose, especially if they are both top doctors. Remember you will have a long term partnership with this person in your treatment. You can private message me for more info if you'd like.

Back-out
09-20-2015, 02:07 PM
First, I consulted with both Drs. Errico and Schwab over a period of years. They were to have operated on me TOGETHER - quite an honor as well as a reflection, I guess, on how serious Dr. Errico perceives my spinal problems.

With apologies if this is "old news", Frank Schwab was recently appointed head of Spinal Services at The Hospital for Special Surgery. He is IMO one of, if not THE most, meticulous and talented complex spinal surgeon out there. A remarkable respectful and respectable human being too, FWIW.

Two months ago, I got a letter from their former joint practice saying he had resigned his position there. Figuring he had not been fired, I googled his name. That revealed news of his new position.

Still trying to figure out whether or not his revised insurance would cover me in this position. Although I regret not having that stellar team do my spine, I cannot rethink the decision since I was prevented from proceeding by unpredictable medical issues that arose in between. First, a fractured ankle unexpectedly put a dent of months in my schedule (as well as causing considerably more spinal pain) , followed by a surprise diagnosis of cancer - being treated and staged right now.

They are both tip top surgeons, but are no longer affiliated.
(BTW I imagine you all know by now that Dr. Lawrence Lenke has moved from St Louis to New York City himself. That move was accomplished in July).