How can I arrange an appointment?
Our preference is for all referrals to be arranged through your family doctor. Having one doctor coordinating all your medical care is important and ensures that we are aware of your relevant medical history. Referrals from physiotherapists and other medical specialists are also welcome.
How long will my consultation take?
It is important that during the first appointment adequate time is available to review in detail your presenting problem. An initial consultation will take 30 - 45 minutes and include examination, x-ray assessment and discussion about your treatment options. For those patients requiring up-to-date x-rays extra time to attend a radiology appointment prior to the assessment will also be required.
What is the consultation fee?
New patient appointment fees range from $250 to $310 depending on duration and complexity. If you have an ACC injury related problem the total cost of your appointment will be covered by ACC. The cost of follow-up appointments vary depending on the time and services involved.
Are you an affiliated provider for Southern Cross Health Insurance Members?
Yes. This means Southern Cross members will be able to use their insurance to receive common spinal operations and hip replacement surgery. Operations are performed at St Georges Hospital or Forte Health.
He also performs surgery on behalf of many other health insurance companies and self funding patients.
Can you refer me through to the public hospital if surgical treatment is recommended?
The public health system struggles to meet the demand for spinal surgery. As a result many patients are unable to access a specialist assessment and our recommendations for surgery are often turned down. We are able to refer you through to the public system but in most circumstances it will be through the same channels your family doctor has access too. Only if a patient presents with a condition normally seen urgently in the public sector (eg. tumour or a rapidly progressive neurological decline) can their treatment be expedited.
What does a ‘spinal fusion’ involve?
Spinal fusion refers to surgery designed to join two or more vertebrae together. This procedure is used to eliminate abnormal or painful movement or can realign a misshaped spine. It frequently involves the insertion of screws into the vertebrae that are then connected by rods to lock the region in a fixed position. Bone or bone-like substitutes are then placed between the vertebrae and techniques are used to encourage the bones to heal together using the same process that occurs when broken bones reunite.
While frequently successful, spinal fusion also has risks. These include wound infection, implant breakage and incomplete healing between the two bones such that movement persists. Further surgery may be needed to correct these problems. In addition, immobilizing one part of the spine causes additional stress and strain on the areas above and below the fusion, which may increase the wear rate in these regions.
Why do some patients not improve following spinal surgery?
The outcomes of spinal surgery depend on a number of factors. The surgeon needs to identify the correct diagnosis, carefully decide if an operation is likely to meet expectations and perform any surgery successfully. Patients need to adhere to post-operative plans and make a concerted effort to address other key components of spinal health including exercise, weight reduction and smoking cessation and appreciate the goals and expectations of surgery.
While surgery is an option for many different spinal problems some scenarios have more predictable results than other. Surgery is particularly reliable when the underlying issue relates to nerve compression like sciatica or spinal stenosis, which are characterized by symptoms that are predominantly felt in the legs or arms. Surgery to address back pain has less predictable results and as a result many spinal surgeons are guarded about recommending surgery if the underlying issue is solely back pain.
In addition a spinal fusion can create additional stress on adjacent spinal regions. In a spine that is already showing signs of aging this can accelerate wear and cause the problem to recur at a nearby region. This can result in the benefits of surgery being short-lived.