Anticipated Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Common Patient Questions and Dr. Gantwerker’s Answers

Q: When does someone need to see a spine surgeon?

A: You may need to see a spine surgeon if your internist or pain doctor has reached a point in your treatment when all non-surgical options have been exhausted. Other times, the problem you have is better treated with surgery and may get you back to your life sooner. A spine surgery may not necessarily be what we will recommend, but it may very well be proposed.

Q: What insurance do you take?

A: We are currently contracted with selected plans. We accept Medicare and are willing to work with most insurance. Please contact our office at (310) 694-8300 or (818) 518-1719 for further details and up-to-date plan acceptance.

Q: Do you do injections at your office?

A: Dr. Gantwerker does not perform injections. If you or your loved one requires them, you will be referred to one of our quality partners for treatment.

Q: Where do you perform your surgeries?

A: Depending on your problem, insurance, and where you live, Dr. Gantwerker may recommend you have your surgery at different places. Dr. Gantwerker operates at St. John’s Health Center and Providence Tarzana Medical Center. Dr. Gantwerker also operates at several elite outpatient surgery centers. We are very selective to make sure where you get your surgery offers the highest quality and best experiences available.

Q: What is “minimally invasive” surgery?

A: Minimally invasive surgery is as much a technique as a philosophy. It is the idea of doing surgeries through small incisions to decrease postoperative pain, encourage quicker recovery, and lower the amount of bleeding, and possibly infection rates. Many times, patients require very little intravenous pain medication. Every patient is unique, and results are never guaranteed.

Q: When is a spinal fusion necessary?

A: The decision to use the spine is complex. Many times a portion of the spine may be unstable. Other times a disc is so badly degenerated is causing pain. Not every spinal surgery is a fusion, but sometimes it is necessary. Dr. Gantwerker will explain what the fusion entails in your preoperative appointment.

Q: How long is recovery from surgery?

A: Since every patient is unique, the time may vary. Many surgeries the patient may go home the next day or two after. In certain cases, they may go home the same day. Dr. Gantwerker will go over your recovery and the postoperative care plan with you in detail before surgery.

Q: How do I get the best outcome from surgery?

A: When your surgery is done, it is best to closely follow Dr. Gantwerker’s recommendations.

Q: Will Dr. Gantwerker prescribe physical therapy?

A: Yes, physical exercise and activity are integral to your postoperative recovery. In general, physical therapy will start about a month after surgery. If you continue to do well, a slow return to your activities will follow and ideally, a return to a better quality of life.

Q: What is Gamma Knife?

A: Gamma Knife is a bloodless approach to surgery using very finely focused beams of gamma rays onto a tumor or abnormal nerve. It has been used for various disorders such as primary brain tumors (such as glioma), metastatic tumors, Meningiomas, trigeminal neuralgia, and even Parkinson’s Disease. It is an outpatient procedure and many patients consider it a pleasant experience.