How to Choose A Treatment Center
The brain is the most complex organ in the body and there is no substitute for experience and technology in dealing with brain injury, disease and disorders. These are the two most critical factors in achieving the best medical outcome possible and Riverside physicians encourage patients to be well informed and to ask many questions about all available healthcare options. Some patients may want physician assistance in making these often complex decisions and if you do not currently have a physician to help guide you, or if you want a second opinion, please contact us and we will have one of our neurologists or neurosurgeons assist you.
We respect the right of every individual to make their own healthcare choices. Outlined below are questions related to experience and technology that we hope you find helpful in selecting a Neurosciences Treatment Center, facility or physician. To help you in the information gathering process, we include information specific to Riverside.
1. What type of doctor should diagnose and treat my condition?
Only Board Certified neurologists and neurosurgeons trained to treat the complexities of the brain should be consulted. It is they who will most likely diagnose and direct your treatment. In cases of brain cancer, a neurosurgeon, who may work closely with a neuroradiologist or medical oncologist, should be consulted in order to properly diagnose and determine all available treatment options. In every case involving brain surgery, a neurosurgeon will perform the surgery.
2. Are the doctors who will treat me Board Certified in neurology, neurosurgery or neuroradiology? Are they available to treat emergencies 24/7?
Riverside physicians in our Center for Neurosciences are all Board Certified in neurology, neurosurgery or neuroradiology. Most have also completed additional fellowship training within their specialty.
Four out of five local neurosurgeons and all neuroradiologists who have an active practice on the Peninsula are affiliated with Riverside. They are available 24/7 and work closely with physicians in the Riverside Emergency & Trauma Center to treat patients with emergency neurological conditions including brain injury and stroke.
3. Do you use the latest neurological diagnostic technology, including MRI and 128-slice CT scanners? If so, where are the diagnostic tests performed?
Riverside uses the most advanced diagnostic tools available including open and closed MRI and the 128-slice CT scanner. The 128-slice CT scanner provides doctors with a significantly more detailed view of the brain than it's predecessor, the 64-slice CT Scanner, and facilitates the development of a faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. It is located at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News adjacent to the Emergency & Trauma Center and is the only 128-slice CT scanner on the Peninsula. Riverside has open and closed MRI and other state of the art tools available at Diagnostic Facilities conveniently located across the Peninsula.
4. Do your doctors perform neurosurgery and if so, where is it performed? Do they also perform stereotactic radiosurgery a less invasive type of brain surgery?
Four out of five local neurosurgeons who actively practice on the Peninsula are affiliated with Riverside and routinely perform traditional neurosurgery at Riverside Regional Medical Center. They also perform stereotactic radiosurgery ("knifeless" surgery conducted using radiation beams) at The Riverside and University of Virginia Radiosurgery Center located on the campus of Riverside Regional Medical Center. This Center has been named a Center of Excellence, one of only a few such Centers in the country and the only one in Hampton Roads.
5. If radiosurgery is performed, where is it performed and what is your experience using it?
All radiosurgeries are performed at the Riverside and University of Virginia Radiosurgery Center located on the campus of Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. Since 2006 when the Center opened, Riverside neurosurgeons have performed more than 650 radiosurgeries using the most advanced technology available, the Gamma Knife. Patients from around the country have come to the Center to be treated. It is the only dedicated radiosurgery treatment center in Hampton Roads.
6. If you perform radiosurgery, what technology is used, Gamma Knife or something else? What type of doctor performs the surgery?
The Gamma Knife, designed to immobilize the head and treat only the targeted area of the brain without damaging surrounding healthy brain tissue, was chosen for it's unparalleled precision and excellence, the only technology designed exclusively for the brain and supported by independent research based on the medical outcome of over 350,000 Gamma Knife surgeries world wide. In all cases, a neurosurgeon performs and directs the surgery and is supported by a neuroradiologist or medical oncologist.
Neurosurgeons at Riverside including many across the country, do NOT support the use of other non-fixed, linear accelerator technologies not exclusively designed for the brain in performing stereotactic radiosurgery. Before having brain surgery, we strongly recommend that you seek a second opinion from a neurosurgeon not affiliated with the primary treating physician or hospital.
We also encourage you to visit the International Radiosurgery Stereotactic Association (IRSA), an independent organization, dedicated to providing educational information and guidelines on stereotactic radiosurgery for BRAIN TUMORS AND BRAIN DISORDERS. They advise referring physicians, governments, regulatory agencies and insurers and recommend using technology that is made specifically to treat brain tumors and disorders where available.
7. If radiosurgery is recommended, will a neurosurgeon or another type of doctor perform the surgery?
Regardless of the type of brain surgery performed at Riverside, a neurosurgeon directs the medical team, leading and presiding over all aspects of surgery. This is not the case at other treatment locations where radiosurgeries are often performed by a radiation oncologist instead of a neurosurgeon. Riverside does not support this practice.
8. What type of support services do you provide and where are they located?
Riverside provides numerous services to aid in the treatment and recovery of patients with multiple neurological conditions. We have a Sleep Lab, Pain Management Center, rehabilitation services and inpatient and outpatient continuing care. We have the only digital swallowing station on the Peninsula, a key diagnostic tool in aiding physicians in locating the causes associated with swallowing difficulty such as those that may occur in stroke patients. We established the Brain Attack (Stroke) Program and operate the only dedicated, full service, rehabilitation facility in Virginia, Riverside Rehabilitation Institute. Continuing care options from minimal in-home assistance to inpatient convalescent care are available and we remain one of the leading providers of continuing care in Virginia. All of our services are Peninsula based.
9. Are follow-up appointments handled locally or will I have to travel away from the Peninsula to see my doctor?
Riverside doctors practice on the Virginia Peninsula and all follow-up is handled locally.
10. Do you provide inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services as part of a comprehensive care plan?
Riverside provides inpatient and outpatient neurological rehabilitation services at Riverside Rehabilitation Institute in Newport News, the largest dedicated, single purpose rehabilitation facility in Virginia. We also provide outpatient rehabilitation services in multiple other locations.
11. Will my primary care or family doctor be kept informed of my progress?
During all stages of diagnosis and treatment, your medical team will stay in close contact with your primary care physician. If you have a Riverside primary care physician, your physician has access to your electronic medical records and may view them 24/7. If you would like a Riverside primary care physician so progress can be closely coordinated and followed, please contact us.