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maxinegerb
03-04-2005, 08:28 PM
I'm a 48-year-old woman in Oakland and I've been seeing Dr. Serena Hu for evaluation. The other day she told me that I will eventually need surgery, since my lumbar curve has progressed from 47 to 56 in two years. I would like to get some additional opinions from surgeons in the area, and then decide who I want to perform the surgery.

I saw Dr. Slabaugh in Oakland a few years ago and liked him as well. I once heard Kevin Booth give a presentation and was impressed with him too.

I'd appreciate hearing about any experiences with any of the the Bay Area doctors and surgical facilities.

Here are some of my concerns.

1. If someone in a private practice like Dr. Slabaugh does my surgery, I'd be treated at Summit Hospital and not at an actual spine center. Aside from the surgery itself, I wonder about the overall care I'd receive in a general surgical unit. Any thoughts on this?

2. I know I need to ask the doctor herself, but at a teaching facility like UCSF, can I be sure that Dr. Hu would perform the actual surgery or can they substitute one of the less senior people?

3. Who in the area has performed a lot of ADULT surgeries? Does anyone specialize in adult treatment?

Thanks,

Maxine

LindaRacine
03-04-2005, 11:04 PM
Hi Maxine...

Obviously, if you have surgery at Summit, the staff will not be as experienced as a place like UCSF, where there are probably at least a dozen scoliosis surgeries performed each week. In The Scoliosis Sourcebook, Dr. Michael Neuwirth writes:


"Your choice of a site for the surgery is just as important as your choice of a doctor. As a rule, spinal surgery should be performed in tertiary-care hospitals (teaching hospitals) rather than community hospitals or outpost hospitals. Although not an emergency, scoliosis surgery is a major procedure. It demands a tremendous investment of people and capital to be performed properly. The success of your surgery depends not only on the surgeon but also on the whole surgical team. For this reason, it should almost always be done in hospitals that do a sufficient number (at least fifty) of spinal fusions (though not necessarily all for scoliosis) a year. In this setting, everyone in the operating room (including anesthesiologist, nurses, and technicians) will be familiar with the operation."

You should address your second question with Dr. Hu to get a definitive answer. However, my understanding is that while Dr. Hu will be supervising your surgery, fellows and residents will play a large role. If you want to be sure that the surgeon you select is actually doing all of the surgery, you might be better off with Dr. Slabaugh or Dr. Booth, or Drs. Berven, Deviren, or Tay at UCSF, or Dr. Gray who is also in private practice. These are pretty much the doctors who perform the most adult scoliosis surgery (along with Dr. Hu, and Dr. Bradford, also at UCSF, who is semi-retired).

Regards,
Linda

P.S. I got your private email about the support group. I only have 1 or 2 meetings a year now, but will be sure that you're on the list to receive announcements.

lrmb
03-05-2005, 12:20 PM
Hi there!

Following on from Maxine's question, Linda, could you explain the differences between these surgeons at UCSF - I mean, why it is that Dr. Hu is more likely to have fellows participating more actively in the process than say Deviren or Berven? It's hard to tell this level of detail from the UCSF website. The reason I ask is that I'm also looking to get refered to one of these UCSF surgeons later this year, so this info would be useful to me as well :)

Thanks!! Laura

LindaRacine
03-05-2005, 02:28 PM
Hi Laura...

Dr. Hu is senior to Dr. Berven, and it's her ultimate responsibility to train the residents and fellows who report to her. While Dr. Berven helps to train, he is always the main surgeon on his own cases.

If you end up coming to UCSF for an opinion, I'd be happy to go to your appointment with you if you don't have someone else who can act as a second pair of ears. :-)

Regards,
Linda

lrmb
03-05-2005, 03:26 PM
Thanks Linda!! Now I understand. I have private messaged you too. I really appreciate all the info you contribute to this board!

~Laura