What is a spine surgeon?

A spine surgeon is a physician who after the finishing the required training for all doctors is selected for additional fellowship training in spine surgery and devotes his entire future practice to spine surgery. Fellowships are prestigious positions that young physicians apply for, and there are only a few spots for each specialty in the country. To be selected for a fellowship is an honor, and enables the physician to spend an extra 1 to 3 years training and working under the leading physicians in their chosen specialties.

When is it time to see a spine surgeon?

At Atlantic Spine Specialists, we are happy to assist you in all aspects of spinal care. We see patients who have already been treated non-operatively by other doctors with medication, therapy or injections. We also see patients as the first doctor to treat them. We can manage all aspects of non-operative care of the spine, as surgery is often the last resort option. It is always a good idea to see a spine surgeon early on to help coordinate your conservative plan.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Before you visit, download and fill out the new patient information forms from our Patient Resources & Education page. This will speed up the office process for you. Please bring all of your insurance information as well as a valid photo ID. Bring all imaging studies that have been performed including x-rays, MRIs and CT scans. Bring the reports if you have them. The doctors will review the images with you and explain any important findings.

What if you are not in my insurance plan?

Although we may not be participating in your insurance plan, we are more than happy to see you and we will make every effort to keep the out-of-pocket expense to a minimum. Most insurance plans provide out-of-network benefits. Our billing office can assist you in filing a claim with your insurance company to reimburse you for your care. This allows you to see the physician of your choice.

What if I was injured at work?

The spine is one of the most common areas for work-related injuries. We have tremendous experience helping patients who injured their neck or back at work. We will work with you to return you to as close to your pre-injury condition as possible. We will help to transition you back to your job and regain your life.

What is a Spine Center of Excellence?

A Spine Center of Excellence is a facility that has been accredited by typically a national accrediting company. To be a Spine Center of Excellence, you have to have 2 things in place: 1) a facility that encompasses excellent equipment and 2) a facility that encompasses excellent personnel. The equipment needs to be state-of-the art operating instruments including microscopes and the latest technologies that are available to include instrumentation usually used for spine surgery. The facility also needs to include proper recovery rooms as well as patient rooms to allow postoperative care to be of the highest level. The personnel required at a Spine Center of Excellence includes anesthesiologists, nursing staff and surgeons of the highest caliber. It anticipates that surgery is being performed with a great enough frequency so that the anesthesiologists, nursing staff and the surgeons all work in a very coordinated fashion to provide the highest level of care. Doctors Giordano and Nachwalter helped create the Spine Center of Excellence at Morristown Medical Center. Morristown Medical Center is one of the few facilities in the state to be a Spine Center of Excellence.

How many cases do spine surgeons operate on in a week?

Although the amount of work is typically not considered a measure of the quality of the work, spine surgery is a specialty that requires a lot of experience and dexterity, both of which improve with frequency of work. On average, a board-certified spine surgeon will do at least four operations a week. At Atlantic Spine Surgery, Doctors Giordano and Nachwalter perform about 15 spine operations a week. That volume increases their surgical ability to provide the highest level of care, minimizing surgical complications, minimizing blood loss and minimizing time required by surgery. All in all, the amount of work performed does translate into better outcomes for the patient.

What should I expect from spinal surgery?

You should expect significant improvement in your preoperative condition from spinal surgery. Spinal surgery is never performed without some historical documentation to support proceeding with surgery. Spinal surgery is never performed because everything else has been tried, and is only performed and recommended because the likelihood of it helping the patient is extremely high. Frequently patients will ask, “I have tried everything else, is it now time for spine surgery?” The answer to that is, “Not necessarily.” Just because everything else has been tried does not mean that surgery is the next step. Surgery is considered the only step when everything else has been tried and the technique being proposed has a very good historical track record for improving the patient’s situation. There is an old saying, “There is no situation so bad that it can’t be made worse with surgery.” Doctors Giordano and Nachwalter frequently consider this each time surgery is recommended.