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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


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Dr jho wait times
Apr 16, 2005
Hi everyone,

I'm not doing that badly right now so my thoughts are with those of you who are suffering.

It's been 4 months since I ruptured my c6-7 disk. Pain has eased quite a bit and if I take it easy and do my pt I'm not doing so bad. I have arm weakness consistently, though.

I want to have endoscopic surgery to trim the herniated disk, mostly because of arm weakness and pins and needles and the way this is limiting my life. I just turned 34 yesterday. I waited three months before getting serious about any kind of surgery. My os recommended a two level acdf (I have degenerative disk space narrowing and a spondylitic ridge with moderate stenosis at c5-6 as well as a moderate bulge at c4-5 and c3-4).

Because of my adjacent problems and worry about domino effect, I started looking into ACD without fusion and CED. I sent films to dr jho and dr schiffer in California. Dr. jho offered me his surgery to trim the disk. Dr. Schiffer wanted more tests, another mri (which showed the herniation was slightly increased) ct scan and x rays. By the time he got back to me recommending a CED and possible ACD it was three more weeks.

Now I'm 4 months into this and although I turned down the acd without fusion, the CED with dr. Schiffer is only partially covered by my insurance. I'm looking at a bill for up to $7000 for doing this.

I then called dr. jho (since he's in my network) and his office said the person who does scheduling for surgeries is on vacation for two more weeks. AND THERE'S NO ONE DOING SCHEDULING UNTIL SHE RETURNS?

What the heck? I'm so sick of this and now I can't even schedule with dr jho for two weeks and it may be 5 or more weeks until I can get in for surgery?

I contacted another dr. in FLA (Dr. Reuter) who does a similar procedure, but he wants $500 an hour just to view my films. I mean, what dr. is spending an hour reviewing your films anyway? Plus he wants another $300 for a consultation (all of which they explicitly say isn't covered by insurance). I've already gotten opinions from three NS and one OS. Who needs to spend $800 just to hear the same thing again.

I don't think a double level fusion is my best move considering my problems at 4 levels. And yet I can't afford Dr. Schiffer and dr jho's office is a bit of a clown operation.

DOES ANYONE KNOW OF ANOTHER DECENT DR WHO DOES MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY AND WHO ISN'T GOING TO CHARGE ME A HUGE SUM FOR A CONSULTATION?

I'm sick of waiting for surgery and I'm not sure what to do. I've heard good things about dr jho, but his office is a joke.

any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for letting me vent.
Nice to hear from you.

I can answer the dr jho wait time question as they just emailed me and told me that the first available is in September, FOUR MONTHS AWAY!

I wish they'd mentioned that when I fedexed my films 6 weeks ago. Dr. Schiffer in California is a nice doctor, I feel and has reasonable availability. But insurance really only pays 50% effectively on the ppo.

I'm looking into Dr. Reuter in Florida. Anyone heard of him? He's part of the same group as Dr. Schiffer and he claims to do a similar procedure (endoscopic) to trim the disk. He's also part of my insurance. But before I send films I'm going to check on the lead time for surgery.

Luckily, I'm feeling a bit better for a few days. But I'm still having the weakness and the pain bothers me intermittently. It's on the rise right now.

My thoughts go out to those of you with more serious pain and problems. I'm probably going to try another 6 weeks of pt and then go for the minimally invasive.

If anyone's thinking about minimally invasive, plan way ahead. It seems like it really takes a while to get in there and to find someone who you like and can afford. I finally decided to do a CED with Dr. Schiffer only to find out that I really couldn't afford it. Then I waited another two weeks for the scheduler at Dr. Jho's office to return from vacation to take dr jho up on his offer of surgery. September was the earliest.

Make decision and get a jump. Otherwise this can drag on forever.
Dr Schiffer really does do minimally invasive stuff. If you have a simple herniated disk he can go in with an endoscope and suck out the herniated portion of the disk. It's an outpatient procedure done under "conscious sedation" (whatever that means). I would have done it excpet for the cost. Insurance only covered about 50% of it.

Someone asked about insurance only covering 50%. The reason is that Dr. Schiffer does not participate as a contract provider for any insurance plan. My ppo pays 70% for not contract providers and I have an out of pocket maximum of $500. Seems good, no? But they only pay 70% of what they call "reasonable and customary" charges. So Dr. Schiffer charges like $8000 for his procedure and my ppo says what's reasonable and customary is more like $4000. So they pay 70% of $4000 and I have to pay the rest. Then you factor in some additional charges for anesthesia, surgery center, flouroscopy, etc. and I was hitting like 6k in costs, plus travel and accomodations from Chicago to California. Couldn't do it.

If anyone's heard of Dr. Reuter in Florida, please drop me a line. He's pretty much my only option right now as I can't wait 4 months for Dr. Jho. and Dr. Schiffer is really too pricey for me. He says he does a similar procedure as Dr. Schiffer performs and is part of the same surgical group.

Take care everyone and feel well.





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