what to expect
Set up a consultation so we can discuss your needs. I would love to sit down with you and figure out what I can do to help treat your pain.
Every patient receives a plan that is specific to them and their symptoms. I strive to provide the highest level of care to every patient, whether that requires surgery or not.
My goal is to educate patients on every part of a surgical plan. I want you to be as informed as possible when it comes to my plan for your health.
I want to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible and back to activity. Let's find a way to get there together.
Prepare for your evaluation
Please note: Medical evaluations and surgical plans given by Dr. Kimball are intended for the use of Dr. Kimball's potential patients only. These evaluations and surgical plans presume his level of skill and experience, that is they are not transferable to other surgeons.
Accurately determining the source of a patient's pain is paramount in a patient's evaluation. Back pain can have many sources such as myogenic (muscular), neurogenic (nerves), psychic (brain and psychological sources), discogenic (from the spinal disc themselves) and, most commonly, nerve root compression by spinal structures. This is why a thorough investigation is imperative.
Imaging and Tests
Imaging is only part of the evaluation and patients are encouraged to contact us, even if they do not have any imaging results. Patients' histories and their pain profiles can be collected and their imaging results can be added later, because imaging is only a part of the evaluation process.
If you do not have any metal in your back, in most cases an MRI, as well as upright X-rays of the affected area are requested for an evaluation, along with your medical background and history of complaints. The upright X-rays should include an AP (front back), Lateral (neutral side view), Lateral flexion (neck/lower back bent forward) and Lateral extension (neck/back bent backward) views. Many people assume X-rays are not needed, because MRIs are a superior technique, but this is not true. Upright X-rays provide information about boney structures and compression of the spine under load, which is important for a complete evaluation. Upright MRIs and CTs are preferred, but are not available in most locations. The imaging can be done in Germany or in your image center. We ask that they not be more than six months old. CTs may be requested for people with pacemakers as an alternative to MRIs. Patients with metal in their spine may also receive this request, because metal can distort an MRI (these distortions are called artifacts in medical parlance). A CT may also be requested of patients after the initial evaluation to assess the condition of their facet joints. Also an ElectroMyoGraph (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) may be required in some cases.
While not necessary for the initial evaluation, a bone density test of all lumbar patients to check for osteoporosis or osteopenia is required for all patients seeking artificial disc replacement (ADR) surgery. Some spine doctors do not require this, and some only require it of post-menopausal women. However, our findings show that men and younger than expected females, test positive for osteoporosis. If you feel that orthopedic spine surgery is in your near future, you should have this easy and very affordable test.
*Note: A comprehensive medical answer to an inquiry needs time and efforts from our doctors and staff. We ask for your kind understanding that we cannot provide instant answers, but neither does your local doctor. Patient evaluations are now free to those who use our new online evaluation system.
steps of your evaluation
1. Patient contacts Dr. Kimball's staff by email or phone
2. Staff sends email with evaluation instructions
3. Patient completes the evaluation process and notifies staff that it is completed
4. Staff checks patient files and forwards the patient's case to Dr. Kimball for an evaluation
5. Patient receives email with evaluation, intervention plan if needed
6. Staff sends patient a cost estimate for any planned intervention
7. Patient notifies staff or doctors, if they wish to be scheduled
8. Scheduling dates are discussed and agreed upon
After surgery date is selected
1. Patient coordinators will send patient a schedule of events, forms to complete and tests to take prior to surgery.
2. Patient will complete forms, choose hotel accommodations, complete pre-operative tests and notify staff of their test results, travel arrangements and if they need an airport pickup.
3. Normally patients stay in a hotel the night before hospital admission, which is between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM the next day.
4. Hospital admission/check-in is quite easy. A stop at the main desk at the entrance and then a walk down the hall to the ward nursing station.
5. Depending on schedules, the head ward nurse is usually the first to interview the patient, then one of Dr. Kimball's associates interviews the patient and draws blood for blood typing. No worries, of the thousands of patient treated by Dr. Kimball only one patient has ever needed a blood transfusion. This interview is primarily focused on checking all medical information about the patient once again.
6. Next and very importantly the patient will be visited by the anesthesiologist. It is the anesthesiologist who is chiefly responsible for the patient care after the surgery.
7. Visits by the physical therapist (although little physical therapy is used in back surgeries) and the dietician will follow.
8. Last comes the visit by Dr. Kimball to review the patient's case and planned intervention one more time. This can last between 15 -90 minutes depending on the complexity of the case and the number of patient questions. Note: That on some rare occasions, when the professor is called away, this interview may not take place on this day.
9. Surgery is the next day. Usually the most complicated cases go first.
10. Dr. Kimball does 1 - 4 surgeries per day depending on the complexity of the cases.
11. X-ray, MRI and CT machines are available for emergency imaging at the hospital
12. After the OR, all patients go to the post-op room and then to their rooms or the ICU, depending on the complexity of the case.
13. After hospital discharge the patient is asked to stay in town for another 7 - 10 days as an extra safety margin, should anything adverse occur.