Finding the Right Epilepsy Surgeon

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If you are considering surgery to treat epilepsy, you’ll want a highly qualified neurosurgeon to perform the procedure. Neurosurgeons are doctors who treat disorders of the nervous system including the brain. How do you find the best neurosurgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind. 

Top Things to Look For

Find a surgeon who:

  • Is board certified in neurological surgery and who specializes in performing epilepsy surgeries, such as focal resection, corpus callosotomy, or multiple subpial transections (MST)
  • Has experience performing the type of brain surgery you require 
  • Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes in neurosurgery
  • Accepts your insurance
  • You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions

Here are five steps to finding the best brain surgeon to perform your epilepsy surgery.

1. Ask Around

Start by asking your neurologist for a recommendation. Also ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search for neurosurgeons who specialize in epilepsy surgery on Healthgrades.com

Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.

2. Research Credentials and Experience

Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in neurosurgery and is experienced in performing the type of epilepsy surgery you need. The more experience a doctor has performing the procedure, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications. 

Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. 

You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.

3. Examine Hospital Performance

Brain surgery requires a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare providers. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of care at the hospital where the surgeon practices. 

Find out where the surgeons on your list can treat patients; then research those hospitals on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of treatments, including neurosurgery. 

Ideally you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5 stars) for neurosurgery. Then find a doctor who can admit and treat patients at this hospital. Avoid hospitals with lower than expected (1 star) results.

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome.

4. Interview the Surgeon

As you narrow down your list of neurosurgeons, call each doctor’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. 

  • Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor. 
  • Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand? 

Here are some questions to ask the doctor:

  • Do you typically treat patients like me?
  • How many epilepsy surgeries have you performed?
  • What results do you usually see?
  • How frequently do you encounter complications from the procedure? 
  • Will you perform other procedures during my surgery, if necessary?
  • What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?

5. Determine Your Insurance Benefit 

Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan. 

But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 4
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. Epilepsy: Frequently Asked Questions. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/epilepsy/hic_epilepsy_frequently_asked_questions.aspx.

  2. Neurological Surgery. American Board of Medical Specialties. http://www.certificationmatters.org/abms-member-boards/neurological-surgery.aspx.