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Neurosurgery for cervical spinal stenosis

August 2008

I need neurosurgery for cervical spinal stenosis. I have been referred to Bruce McCormick in San Francisco. Anyone know anything about him? Trying to get reviews over the internet has yielded nothing. Anyone have other recommendations or suggestions how to learn more about McCormick? jenny

Brian McCormick MD has an excellent reputation in the spine community as does Brian Andrews MD. Both are highly reputable spine surgeons. Ortho spine surgeons in the community also include Robt Byers MD in Marin, Noel Goldthwaite MD, James Reynolds MD and Paul Slosar MD in Daly City, as well as Sernea Hu MD and Bobby Tay MD the latter 2 @ UCSF. ALL of these providers belong to NASS (the north american spine society) which educates and credentials neuro and ortho spine providers.

I wish you the best with your surgery-you would be in good hands with any of the above doctors! ortho NP

Pediatric Neurosurgeon for hydrocephalus

Nov 2007

My cousin's 9-month-old baby has hydrocephalus and recently started having severe seizures. She lives a few hours away but is considering seeking a consultation in the Bay Area, just to make sure her son is receiving the best, most cutting-edge treatment possible. Does anyone have any recommendations for top-notch pediatric neurologists? We could easily take them to Oakland Children's, UCSF, Stanford -- wherever the best doctors are -- and they can stay here if multiple appointments are necessary. anon

I think with hydrocephalus, you need a neurosurgeon. Dr. Peter Sun at Children's Hospital and Research Center is outstanding. I believe his phone # is 510-428-3319. He has priviledges at UCSF as well, but his base practice is at Children's and he is great, very well trained and a nice personality too! anon Doc
I didn't see your original posting but my son (6Y) has hydrocephalus. Dr. Peter Sun, CHO, performed the surgery when he was only 2 days old and weighed less than 3 lbs.

He has had 4 shunt revisions, all done by Dr. Sun with the last one done in 2002. Dr. Sun was very honest and matter-of-fact about the cause of the failure and the probabiltiy of the success on the latest revision.

Although we no longer see Dr. Sun, Dr. Sun and his staff are wonderful. On those occassions when my son has had hospital stays at CHO or other appointments, they still know my son by name and check on him as well when he is admitted at CHO.

We now see Dr. Michael Edwards at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford (LPCH). We see him twice a year and he comes by whenever my son is admitted to the hospital. He is also an excellent neurosurgeon and recognized by name with the other doctors my son sees. If you don't mind the drive, the facilities and support staff are excellent at LPCH.

My son was admitted into the NICU and ICU units mutliple times at both hospitals, and I had a better experience at LPCH than CHO.
Michael S Edwards, MD Service Chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery Clinic: Pediatric Neurosurgery 730 Welch Road, Suite 206 Palo Alto, CA 94304 (650) 724-4270
Just to let you know, my son sees many medical specialists and they are scattered through-out the Bay Area CHO, LPCH, UCSF, and John Muir. You're on the right track in checking out recommendations and getting feedback on the different doctors.


I am a health care professional and can whole heartedly recommend Dr. Peter Sun at Children's Hospital Oakland. He's excellent and extremely skilled with shunts, and hydrocephalus in general. anon
I would wholeheartedly refer you the Neuro team at Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford for a second opinion. As required, the team will do a full workup of your child, including inpatient eeg montitoring, prescribe the necessary medications and follow your child's success with treatment. I worked there for several years as a pediatric nurse and certainly liked what I saw firsthand. Packard houses a resident program and participates in medical research trials, putting them at the forefront of what is new in the field. Best to you
Dr. Peter Sun at Children's hospital is a wonderfully skilled neurosurgeon. Any child cared for by Dr. Sun would be in excellent hands. anon
If you are with Kaiser, Dr. Zovikian (not sure of exact spelling) in Oakland is superb! I trust him absolutely. Sepha
I can highly recommend Peter Sun, MD. at Children's Hospital Oakland. He performed brain surgery on our daughter when she was 7 months old, he placed a shunt to control for hydrocephalus at that time, he's monitored her for over four years. Not only is he a tremendous and highly regarded pediatric neurosurgeon, his office staff is supportive, available, and knows their way around the insurance issues that you will face. Dr. Sun also works closely with the team at UCSF in San Francisco. But, my advice to you (and your cousin) is to meet with Dr. Sun and decide for yourself. You'll know the right Dr. when you meet him. We did. Happy with Dr. Sun and CHO

Pediatric Neurosurgeons

March 1998

was a kind and gentle man. The surgery was long & complex, and successful. I trusted him with my daughter's life, and he was deserving of my trust. Dr. Zovikian was in the same practice, and visited us at the hospital once or twice after the surgery, and he seemed like a good man and a fine physician too. Judy

My son has been treated by Dr. Nagle as his primary neurosurgeon. (I say primary because he has seen all the other neurosurgeons in the group, except Zovickian, at one time or another since they back each other up.) I have nothing but positive things to say about Dr. Nagle, who is a soft spoken, caring person, who inspires confidence by straightforward talk. I have full confidence in his surgical skills (although I really have no basis to judge -- he just inspires my confidence). In my son's case (which involved a somewhat complicated case of hydrocephalus due to Dandy-Walker Syndrome), I would say Dr. Nagle is on the conservative side in recommending surgery. In contrast, Taekman has seemed to me to be somewhat more aggressive, e.g., quicker to insist that my son be admitted to intensive care.

Nagle was good in explaining options about the different kinds of surgery that could be done. He did have clear opinions about what he planned to do (which from my point of view was fine, since I was in no position to determine which kind of surgical procedure was better). But he did listen to the opinions of other doctors (in the beginning I took my son to a pediatric neurosurgeon at UCSF, who suggested a different procedure). In the end, Nagle consulted with a different colleague at UCSF about how to handle my son's case and changed his approach. He ended up doing the first surgery in the way that the UCSF pediatric neurosurgeon I had seen would have done it. The shunt failed within a few months and was redone as Nagle had first proposed. There were complications with the revision which scared me, but Dr. Nagle took it all in stride and assured me he would get him out of the hospital (which he did). The revision ultimately failed as well a year and a half later, but by then my son seemed to be o.k. without a shunt (much to all the doctors' great surprise). I periodically take my son in for follow-up, just to make sure he is doing o.k., and always enjoy the office visits. Kate

My youngest daughter (now age 7) has acquired hydrocephalus (which was diagnosed at 13 days). She was shunted at age 6 mos and her neurosurgeon is Dr. Zovickian (of Taekman, Nagle & Zovickian). She was seen by Nagle & Taekman as well, both in the days before the diagnosis and post-op. They were both thoughtful and helpful. Dr. Zovickian is a very reserved person (those who know him will now be muttering that's an understatement). What I most appreciated about him was that when it was time to focus on my daughter, we had his full attention. I didn't at think he was anywhere else but with us. He is an excellent surgeon and I trust him completely. Kathryn
i am a special educator locally and have heard nothing but praise for dr. taekamn. the families i work with are very pleased with his work. -K Kimberly

Famous Neurosurgeons

Jenny 10/99 I am posting for a good friend of mine who needs cervical disk surgery and is looking for recommendations for brilliant neuro-surgeons. He has had a couple of consultations and wants to be sure he has chosen the right doctor for him so he is looking for further names. If anybody has experience either good or bad we would appreciate your posting.
Kathleen I'm a bit cynical about famous neurosurgeons, based on experience. I had cervical disk surgery twice. The second surgeon was world-famous, the head of a Northern California university teaching-hospital neurosurgery unit. The operation and post-surgical care were immediately followed by long-term problems that may have been avoidable. (My spinal cord swelled up and was damaged). When the symptoms showed up a few days after surgery, someone on the surgeon's staff said I wasn't supposed to be having the symptoms I was experiencing, but nobody followed up. The surgeon seemed to think it was my problem -- as if I was being an uncooperative patient by not getting well. Some problems with using a world-famous surgeon: 1) He or she is probably a professor, and residents have to practice on someone. Of course, your friend can ask about this, but how can you really tell who did the actual surgery? 2) He or she may be more overconfident even than the average neurosurgeon -- it takes a lot of arrogance to cut into somebody's brain based on a fuzzy MRI. The downside of arrogance is that if something goes wrong, the doctor may be unable to admit it to him/herself, and respond early. This may have contributed to the problems I now have. Plus it's damn irritating! 3) Disk surgery is relatively routine neurosurgery. World-famous surgeons, sought out for the tricky, nonroutine surgeries, may get less practice on disks. 4) World-famous surgeons maybe get less sleep than the less famous. (Mine had been at work for 10-12 hours before he got to me.) Plus they may be past their prime -- they're famous for what they did 10-20 years ago, not last week. My advice: Don't be in a hurry; do your homework on what the surgery and post-surgery entail. Ask several neurologists who they would recommend - it may not be the famous guy. How often does the doctor do this type of surgery? (It should be weekly or more often.) Does the doctor prefer laminectomy only or does he/she also do fusion? What type of procedure makes more sense to your friend? Does the doctor reschedule you if a prior operation keeps him/her working late, or does the doctor keep going no matter how tired? Does your friend have any say about this, can your friend get schedules for early in the day? What does the doctor use to prevent swelling (prednisone, naloxone, something else, nothing?) Does the surgeon *listen* to your friend? How does the surgeon follow up on patients while ensuring objectivity? (If you asked my surgeon, he'd say my surgery was perfect. But he didn't much listen.) What about the hospital? Nurses can catch (or make) life-and-death mistakes. So can observant friends and family. Please don't use my experience as reason to worry overmuch. My spine was a mess from multiple injuries and hard to operate on. To the extent I was injured, I've gotten much better over time. And while I'm still ticked off about the whole thing, I also recognize that I did need the surgery, and would be much worse off without it.