Ask Us

How do I make an appointment?

All appointments are made through our St Leonards office. Please call (02) 9436 1818.

How long is my appointment?

Initial consultations are up to 40 minutes in duration although in some specific incidences we reserve an hour of time.
Follow up consultations are up to 20 minutes.
Postoperative consultations are for 10-20 minutes.

What do I need to make an appointment?

You need a valid referral from your general practitioner or another specialist. We will usually ask you to provide that referral at the time of making the appointment, as well as a few details including name, date of birth, phone number, email address, Medicare number, private health insurance details and if applicable any pension, workers compensation or compulsory third party details. Where possible please have this information at hand when making your appointment.

Can I make an appointment if I do not have private health insurance?

If the appointment is about a workers compensation or compulsory third party matter, or if you have valid private health insurance you will usually be seen in the private rooms. Some patient without private health insurance will be seen in the private rooms depending on the nature of your complaint, however many will be referred on to the Neurosurgical Outpatient Clinic at Royal North Shore Hospital where the SNNS specialist and/or their team will see you there.

Can Work Cover patients make appointments?

We do see Work Cover patients provided you have the appropriate referral and approval PRIOR to the consultation.

Will I be reminded of my appointment?

All appointments are confirmed the day prior, usually by SMS but by telephone if SMS is unavailable.

What happens if I cancel my appointment?

We understand that unexpected circumstances come up and that occasionally we need to cancel appointments at the last minute. We would politely ask that you give the maximum notice before canceling the appointment. We don’t charge you for canceling the appointment but will often ask for payment prior to the consultation if there are repeated last minute cancellations.

How long is my consultation?

Initial consultations are up to 40 minutes in duration although in some specific incidences we reserve an hour of time.
Follow up consultations are up to 20 minutes.
Postoperative consultations are for 10-20 minutes.

How much will my consultation cost and how can I pay?

Details of cost will be made available on making the appointment.
Payment must be made on the day of the appointment and may be be either cash, personal/bank cheque, EFTPOS or credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

Where will my consultation be?

We consult at a variety of locations and will make you aware of these when you make the appointment.

Where can I park?

Details of nearby parking are available on our Find Us page for St Leonards (link) Erina (link) Gosford (link) or Katoomba (link).


What do I need to do before my consultation?

Please send in your referral via either fax or email as soon as you make your appointment, as well as any x-ray or scan reports that may relate to the problem for which you are seeing us. We may request further information from you or your GP, or request that you have scans prior to seeing you. We may also email you some information or questionnaires that may help us treat you.

What do I need to bring with me to the consultation?

Please bring your referral, any scan reports (including xray, CT, MRI, bone density scans, bone scans or any previous procedures including spinal injections.) Where possible please bring either a hard copy or electronic copy of the scans themselves – we are often able to access your scans remotely so if you are unable to provide a copy check with our staff when making the appointment.

When will my surgery be?

We will generally make a date for the surgery at the time of discussing the procedure with you and you agreeing that it is the best course of action for you. Occasionally this will not be possible as there may be other specialists involved, or we may have other patients whose care we need to consider before finalising our operating lists. In terms of where each patient is on the operating list that is usually only decided the day before surgery and depends upon what else is on the operating list for that day.

Is there accommodation nearby the hospital?

There are preferred accommodation providers nearby the hospitals – please see the hospital websites available on our Find Us page for details.

When will I come into hospital before my surgery?

Most patients having spine surgery or peripheral nerve surgery will come into hospital the morning of your surgery. Patients having brain surgery will usually come in the night before to facilitate scans used intra-operatively (for “stereotaxy”). We will discuss this with you at the time of booking your surgery.

What should I do about my normal medications?

By and large you will continue to take all of your medications and it is important to do so (unless specifically advised to stop them.) The exception to this are medications that affect blood clotting (“blood thinners”) including aspirin (Cartia, Astrix, Cardiprin), clopidogrel (Plavix, Iscover, Co-plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis), as well as some other drugs that affect blood clotting such as anti-inflammatories, fish oil etc. These drugs will often need to be stopped prior to surgery – if you are on any of these medications or have any questions please let us know!

Will I have any other appointments before surgery?

We will often have you come to the pre-admission clinic for some tests and an evaluation by a representative of our anaesthetist prior to surgery. This is usually less than 10 days prior to your surgery. If there is another surgeon involved in your procedure we may also have you make an appointment with them prior to the scheduled surgery.

How much will surgery cost?

You will be provided with a detailed estimate of fees for surgery at the time of booking your surgery. The cost of the procedure depends entirely on the procedure itself and can only be estimated on an individual basis.

What does my surgery involve?

We will discuss your surgery with you when booking it in. This is a very detailed conversation where not only will we discuss what we will actually be doing but also the common and uncommon risks associated with the operation. You will frequently be given additional printed information that also goes over things in further detail, and also has some illustrations that are useful in understanding the procedure itself.
If you have further questions after your consultation whereby we book the surgery in please do not hesitate to contact us. Some patients will come for another appointment to go through things. There is almost no question around the surgery that we have not heard before. It is important to us that you feel as comfortable as you can be about the operation leading into it!

Will I be in pain after the operation?

Some pain is expected at the site of the surgery.  If your operation was for pain it will often improve while you are in hospital, but sometimes it will take some time to recover.  You will be given painkillers in hospital, as well as some to take home when the time comes.

How long will I be in hospital?

This again is highly dependent on your procedure, and varies from day stay procedure up to a week or two in hospital. We will usually be able to estimate this prior to your surgery. With some of the more complex procedures or depending on your general health and supports you may require some inpatient rehabilitation. If this is the case we will arrange this for you while you are in hospital.

Will I go to Intensive Care?

Many patients will be observed in the ICU for a night after the surgery as a routine. This is dependent on your procedure and on your background medical health. Occasionally unexpected circumstances present themselves that require you to be admitted to ICU for further observation or treatment.

What sort of anaesthetic will I have?

The majority of procedures are done under a general anaesthetic. We do do some procedures under local anaesthetic (with or without sedation) but this will be discussed with you specifically prior to your operation.

How long will I be in hospital?

This is highly dependent on your procedure, and we will usually give you an estimate at the time of booking your procedure.

What can I do when I go home?

Usually you’ll need to take it relatively easily for the first few weeks after the surgery. We will give you a good idea of what you can and can’t do for the first few weeks before you leave hospital.

When can I drive?

This depends on your procedure. For cranial surgery, you will not be allowed to drive at least until you are seen in follow up at approximately 6 weeks. For spinal or nerve surgery, you can usually drive approximately 2-3 weeks after the surgery but we’ll give you a specific indication when you are in hospital.

What do I do about the wound?

This depends upon your procedure. For cranial surgery, there will usually be staples that need to be removed at 7-10 days, usually by your GP. For spine surgery, the sutures will generally be dissolvable sutures under the skin. We will let you know when you may get the wound wet, when you wash may wash your hair and other specifics before you leave hospital.

What do I need to look out for?

Basically trust your instincts, and ask questions if you have any concerns! Things we would want to know about include if you develop any redness of the wound or discharge from it, if you develop any fevers, or if you have worsening pain. After cranial surgery let us know if you have worsening headache or develop nausea and vomiting.
This question is very difficult to give a broad answer to as each individual patient and procedure can have different issues. If you are concerned contact us during business hours. or you may contact your local doctor, emergency department or the neurosurgical registrar at Royal North Shore Hospital.

What exercise may I do after surgery?

We will generally want you to take it fairly easy for the first few weeks after your operation. You can generally walk as far as you can within limits of your pain from when you go home. Swimming is usually ok two-three weeks after surgery, but any more strenuous exercise should be avoided until you are seen in follow up.

Will I be in pain?

Most operations unfortunately do involve some pain during the healing process. We will make sure you go home with adequate painkillers to get you through the first week or so after the surgery. Beyond that most patients can get by with over the counter preparations such as Panadol. We would generally want you to avoid anti-inflammatories such as Nurofen but please contact us if you have any questions.

Do I need to be seen again after surgery?

We will advise you of what follow up appointments you will require and will usually contact you to arrange this shortly after you go home. At the latest we would like to see you 6 weeks after your surgery but sometimes it will be sooner. You may require some follow up investigations or consultations with other doctors – if this is the case we will advise you before you go home.

The information in this section is meant as general advice, however it is no substitute for individual discussion and treatment. Please contact us if you have any further specific questions.