After a tentative diagnosis of Chiari malformation, the patient's primary care physician may make a referral to a neurosurgeon and/or the patient may seek recommendations from other sources, including former patients. Patients may also want to consult with more than one neurosurgeon to get the broadest perspective on his or her condition. When researching or selecting a neurosurgeon, be sure to consider:
- Does the neurosurgeon have experience with Chiari malformations? Not all neurosurgeons frequently treat patients with a Chiari malformation. Be sure to ask how many cases a neurosurgeon has treated, and how many of them had surgery. What were the outcomes in those cases? What complications has the neurosurgeon seen?
- Is the neurosurgeon associated with a major brain and spine center? Patients with Chiari malformation benefit from a team approach, in which neurosurgeons collaborate with other specialists – including otolaryngologists (ENTs), cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and specialists in a variety of brain and spine conditions — before making a recommendation on how to proceed.
- Does the neurosurgeon respect your individual circumstances? Not everyone with Chiari malformation needs to be treated the same way, but they all deserve compassion and respect. The best neurosurgeons demonstrate understanding and concern for each individual patient's circumstances and needs — a Chiari patient and family should feel 100 percent comfortable talking with the neurosurgeon, being sure that all questions and concerns are addressed.
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