What Should I Ask My Surgeon


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These are my suggestions.  Pick and choose as you wish.  Remember, you will also be getting a second opinion so you need a method to compare surgeons.

Regarding Your Diagnosis

Is it benign?

What tests will you conduct ahead of time? Fine needle biopsy (FNA), MRI/CT Scan? Why CT vs MRI?

I would like to review the findings of the CT Scan and FNA with you. May I read it?

Regarding The Procedure

Will the procedure be outpatient or will I need to spend the night?

How will you close the wound, sutures, staples, or Dermabond?

I copied these photo's from the internet.  Which best represents the incision and closing technique you will be using?

Will a drain be required?

Iím really concerned about what the scar will look like. Do you think plastic surgery will be needed afterwards?  Would a muscle overlap be appropriate?  What are the risks?

Show me where the incision will start and end?

Will the procedure be performed under a microscope?

Is there any reason you would cut or remove part of the facial nerve? Since you are going to be asleep during the procedure you need to establish what youíre expectations are now.

Iím really nervous about the operation. Can you give me something to settle my nerves the day of surgery?

I hate needles. How many IV lines will be required? Why? Are they all necessary or are some "just in case?" Will they be applied in the operating room or hours ahead of time? When will they be removed?

Regarding The Doctor

Are you board certified? Now a days this is almost a dumb question. But lets start with easy questions. If he/she isnít, get the heck out of there!

What did you study during residency? It should be head and neck and he/she should have performed some parotidectomies during that time.

Where did you conduct your residency? Consider whether or it it was a reputable medical institution.

The following questions may make the doctor uncomfortable, particularly if he or she is young.  However, in my opinion experience is the most important thing the surgeon can bring to the operating room.  Try not to grill the doctor but be persistent and accept nothing less than a direct answer. 

How long have you been practicing, not including your residency?

How many times and how often have you performed this procedure?

Have you ever had patients experience permanent facial nerve damage due to the removal of a benign parotid gland tumor? How many and how long has it been since that has happened?

Given what you know of my tumor, size and location, what do you think the chances are of permanent nerve damage? Temporary nerve damage?