Why Get a Virtual Second Opinion and What to Expect

July 11, 2023

BY Joshua Abrams,M.D.
Joshua Abrams is a fellowship-trained and board certified orthopedic spine surgeon, specializing in minimally invasive surgery, artificial disc replacement, and cervical and lumbar spine surgery. He has helped develop a multitude of minimally invasive spine products for the largest orthopedic company in the world. He is a thought leader in minimally invasive spine techniques, spinal navigation and non-fusion technologies. Additionally, he employs new cutting-edge techniques to minimize post-surgical pain and optimize patients’ experience.


Suffering from chronic low back or neck pain can inhibit you from participating in the activities you love. You might feel like there’s a sliver of hope for returning to your previous lifestyle. So, you turn to your doctors for answers. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, orthopedist or pain management specialist. Each one plays a role in diagnosing your condition. 

During this journey, you may find relief from conventional methods like medication, physical therapy and therapeutic injections. However, if you continue to suffer without relief, your doctor may refer you to a spine surgeon. 

After you consult with a surgeon, you may wish to seek a second opinion before moving forward. Seeking a second opinion can help answer your questions and concerns while refining your diagnosis and exploring all available treatment options. Second opinions help you make informed and confident decisions and have better peace of mind.

Why Get a Second Opinion?

Why Get a Second Opinion?

Health matters should not be taken lightly, and when you have a serious spine issue, gathering expert insight and weighing all your options is of the utmost importance. 

Spinal conditions can be complex, so multiple treatment options are available depending on your concerns. If a physician recommends having spine surgery, getting a second opinion is a good idea to be sure surgery is the best choice. You may discover other, less invasive treatment methods or a different diagnosis altogether.

Spine surgery is a significant life-changing decision, and you should be comfortable with the surgeon and the recommended surgery. It’s essential to conduct research on your spine condition and the recommended surgical procedure. You have many resources at your fingertips with Google — but always be careful not to overthink the research process. 

Once you complete your consultation and research, reasons you may want to consider obtaining a second opinion include:

  • To understand your condition: If your surgeon won’t take the time to answer your questions and concerns and provides you with a vague surgical plan, you can seek a second opinion to understand your condition better.
  • You want more options: If surgery is the only option recommended, you might want a second opinion to avoid surgery or seek alternative treatment options and less invasive surgical methods. From March to December 2020, 13,541 patients received unnecessary spinal fusion surgeries for back pain. So, make sure you get the right surgery the first time.
  • To confirm your surgeon’s opinion: Confirming your surgeon’s recommendation offers you peace of mind. However, your second opinion may differ. For 12%-69% of patients, their second opinion offered a different diagnosis or treatment plan.
  • You suspect your referral was for economic reasons: Sometimes, referring physicians favor surgeons who operate at local facilities, especially if they are both in a multispecialty clinic. Local physicians are usually qualified and capable but may not be the best-suited first referral.
  • To confirm your diagnosis: You want to ensure you have an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your painful condition.
  • Your first surgery was unsuccessful: If your first surgery was unsuccessful and your surgeon doesn’t provide another solution or recommends further surgery, you may want to get a second opinion. 

DISC Offers Two Types of Second Opinions

The Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) is one of the premier spine practices in Phoenix, Arizona. We’re constantly evolving to offer our patients the most innovative, personalized and convenient spine care. Our expert surgeons are sought after by patients worldwide because of their expertise in endoscopic and minimally invasive spine surgeries and cervical artificial disc replacements. We have developed these second opinion programs to accommodate our patient’s growing demand.

Traditional In-Person Second Opinion Consultation

Our surgeon will become acquainted with your history and review all your pertinent medical records during your visit. Then, he’ll perform a comprehensive physical examination. Afterward, he will discuss his diagnosis and recommend the least invasive treatment options available. Once he has given his recommendations, he will answer all your questions and address your concerns.

Patients can schedule second opinion appointments by calling the office or filling out our online form. Make sure to bring your pertinent medical records, imaging studies, current diagnosis and treatment recommendations. 

Learn More

Virtual Second Opinion 

A virtual second opinion (VSO) provides patients with convenient online access to expert and world-renowned orthopedic spine specialists. With our virtual second opinions, you can receive a secure and timely expert opinion from the convenience of your home. 

Before your VSO consultation, one of our experts will thoroughly review your relevant medical records, images, diagnosis and treatment plan. Then, our expert spine surgeon will meet with you to discuss his findings and tailor a treatment plan that best fits your lifestyle. He will also answer your questions and address your concerns.

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Our Virtual Second Opinion Process — Simple, Thorough and Personalized

The virtual second opinion process is simple and easy to follow from the comfort of your home. You can complete our user-friendly online process in a few steps:

  1. Take a few moments to fill out our questionnaire regarding your pain. 
  2. Upload your current MRI and any other relevant X-ray medical images from your computer. 
  3. Once we receive your documents, our professional and courteous staff will call you within a few hours to become acquainted and assist you.
  4. Within five (expedited) or 10 (regular) days of receiving your medical records, one of our surgeons will consult with you via a virtual call and address all your questions and concerns. He will explain his findings and how he might treat your condition if you decide to travel to DISC for a formal appointment. You will also receive a written report summarizing his opinion. 
  5. If you choose to visit us at DISC and are outside the Phoenix area, our staff will help you schedule the necessary appointments and recommend travel accommodations.

At DISC, we believe that a well-informed patient is an empowered patient. The best-informed patients have better outcomes after surgery. Patients that utilize our virtual second opinion program are less anxious about moving forward when specialists recommend surgery.

What Should You Expect From a Virtual Second Opinion With a DISC Spine Surgeon?

Finding out you need spine surgery can be overwhelming. You should consider your decision and weigh your options before undergoing surgery. When getting a second opinion about spine surgery, we believe patients should expect excellent customer service, professional care, respect and empathy for their painful condition. Our previous patients are very satisfied with our surgeons and service and shared their experiences on our highly rated online patient review platform. 

When you choose one of our surgeons at DISC for a virtual second opinion, you can expect the following advantages. 


Our VSO program allows you to get the answers you deserve, save time and avoid the hassle of traveling, all while gaining peace of mind from the convenience of your home.

Your personal care manager will gather your medical information, answer your questions, explain our online process and schedule your upcoming virtual meeting with one of our expert surgeons.

Fast Turnaround Service

Time is of the essence when you are in pain and seeking answers to your health care needs. You can expect an immediate response from our team after completing the online submission form. Within 10 business days, you will receive your online second opinion visit and a written report.

Internationally Known Spinal Surgeons

DISC surgeons are fellowship-trained and board-certified in orthopedic spine surgery with 50 years of spine experience. We are the worldwide leader in least-invasive endoscopic spine surgery and recognized research leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery and artificial disc replacement.

Our reputation for providing long-term pain relief and improved physical function has our patients and colleagues referring people from all over the world. In addition, many professional sports teams use DISC for their team spine surgeons and consultants.

Providers Who Listen And Answer Your Questions

Providers Who Listen And Answer Your Questions

Our professional staff will take their time to explain the virtual second opinion process. Virtual second opinion patients can expect us to listen carefully with compassion and empathy before and during their appointment — we listen, ask and get to know you, your pain story and your desired outcomes. Your surgeon will take the time to discuss his opinion and address your questions and concerns. 

Expert Opinions

Our surgeons will review your MRI and medical history before preparing an expert opinion on their findings. They will discuss your current medical records, imaging studies and any recent spine surgery with you.

Minimal Downtime

If you travel to DISC for treatment, rest assured that our least invasive surgical procedures get patients back to work faster. Our endoscopic surgery patients return to administrative work in less than two weeks. We work with you and your busy schedules to get you evaluated, treated and back home to minimize your time here in Phoenix, AZ. 

Contact DISC for a Virtual Second Opinion

If you need immediate help with your painful spine condition, trust the convenient expertise of a virtual second opinion from DISC. Our surgeons provide patients with excellent results, long-term pain relief and improved function to restore their previous lifestyle.

When you choose DISC for a virtual second opinion and decide to return for an in-person patient visit, you can expect seamlessly coordinated patient care, an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan that will provide long-term pain relief. At DISC, we want to help our patients enjoy life again! Contact our friendly team today to schedule an in-person second opinion.

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