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Home » Why Your Doctor Needs Your Help to Battle Over-Treatment: Christer Mjåset (Transcript)

Why Your Doctor Needs Your Help to Battle Over-Treatment: Christer Mjåset (Transcript)

Following is the full transcript of neurosurgeon Christer Mjåset’s TEDx Talk: Why Your Doctor Needs Your Help to Battle Over-Treatment at TEDxOslo conference. This event occurred on May 5, 2018.


You can also listen to this MP3 audio while reading the transcript: Why your doctor needs your help to battle over-treatment _ Christer Mjåset _ TEDxOslo


Christer Mjåset – Neurosurgeon and the Vice President of the Norwegian Medical Association

I am a neurosurgeon, and I’m here to tell you today that people like me need your help. And in a few moments, I will tell you how.

But first let me start off by telling you about the patient of mine. This was a woman in her 50s. She was in generally good shape but she had been in and out of hospital a few times due to curative breast cancer treatment.

Now she had gotten a prolapse from a cervical disc giving her radiating pain of a tense kind out into the right arm. Looking at her MRI before the consultation I decided to suggest an operation. Now operations like these are standardized and they’re quick but they carry a certain risk. You make an incision right here and you dissect carefully past the trachea, esophagus and you try not to cut into the internal carotid artery.

Then you bring in the microscope and you carefully remove the disc and the prolapse in the nerve root canal without damaging the cord and the nerve root lying only millimeters underneath. A worst-case scenario is the damage to the cord which can result in paralysis from the neck down.

Explaining this to the patient she felt silent and after a few moments she uttered a few very decisive words for me and for her: “Doctor, is this really necessary?”

And you know what I realized right there and then: it was not. In fact, when I get patients like this woman, I tend to advise not to operate.

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