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How to Choose a Surgeon


Choosing a surgeon—especially for a complicated procedure—is an important decision. While researching the top 10 neurosurgeons in your area can help you get started in the right direction, you’ll also want to schedule consultations and ask more in-depth questions. No matter where you are in the search process, we have some tips for choosing an experienced surgeon who has your best interests at heart.

Who Would Your Doctor Choose?

Reputation in the community is generally a good place to start when searching for a surgeon. If you already have a primary care doctor or other doctor that you trust, ask them who they would go to for a surgical problem.

How Long Has Your Surgeon Been in the Community?

If your surgeon has been in practice in only one location and for a long time, then that surgeon has stability and likely is a good surgeon. If your surgeon has moved about from city to city, state to state, or group to group then he/she has likely been having problems of one form or another.

Is Your Surgeon Board Certified or Eligible?

Board certification is a voluntary extra step beyond medical licensure that the top-ranked neurosurgeons undertake. This certification designates them as experts in their specialty. Surgeons are generally eligible to take the board exams after they have been in practice for about two years.

If your surgeon is board eligible, this means they have finished their training, but have not yet taken the board exams. However, if your surgeon has been practicing for around 5 years but has not passed the board exams, you might want to consider getting another surgeon for your problem.

Check to see if your neurosurgeon is board certified here 

Did Your Surgeon Provide All the Information You Need to Make a Decision?

Cranial and spine problems are complicated, and treatments are not one-size-fits-all. Before offering you surgery, your surgeon and his assistant(s) should spend 30-60 minutes with you. During your appointment, the surgeon should obtain your complete history, perform a physical examination, review the radiologic studies with you (and show you the pictures and scans that have been taken), and discuss your diagnosis. When your surgeon has a thorough understanding of your case, you can feel confident that you are being offered the treatment option that is right for you.

If you do need surgery, your surgeon should spend enough time with you so that you completely understand your condition, your surgical and non-surgical options, and the outcomes and complications of the suggested surgery.

Did You Get a Second Opinion?

Finally, all quality surgeons have no problems with you getting a second opinion and usually will give you the risks/benefits of getting a second opinion.


INI is proud to have several of the top neurosurgeons in California on our team. Our surgeons are board certified/eligible, caring, and extremely thorough—so when you are looking for a surgeon, make sure INI is on your list for a consultation or second opinion.