Frequently Asked Questions

Find your care

At the UCLA Health Spine Center, our experts diagnose, manage and treat all spinal injuries and conditions. Call 310-319-3475 to connect with a spine specialist.

Should I mail my MRI?

Please do not mail any films. All imaging and x-ray studies done at UCLA will be available to the physician online. Please bring all other films and report with you on the day of your consultation.

How recent must my MRI be?

Your doctor will want to see your most recent diagnostic studies (MR or CT scan or x-ray). If you have developed new symptoms, such as weakness or numbness, since your last scan, your doctor will want you to have a current scan before you are seen.

Where can I park?

Subterranean parking is available under 1131 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 100. Street parking is available at parking meters. Some parts of Santa Monica is limited to residential parking only. Please be sure to read the signs carefully regarding street cleaning to avoid a parking citation. We're sorry, but the clinic does not validate parking.

Are there any restrictions on the age group?

Nick Shamie, M.D. will see minors 15 and older. William Oppenheim, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, sees children under 15 years old. Luke Macyszyn, MD and Andrew Vivas, MD, neurosurgeons, see pediatric patients.  All other specialists treat adults.

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How do I verify if the physician I would like to see is in network?

You will need to contact your insurance company. To ensure your insurance will cover the cost of the consultation, call your insurance company to confirm. 

Can the spine specialist help with other medical conditions?

It is always important to mention other medical conditions for a comprehensive evaluation. If necessary, plain x-rays can usually be obtained right away. The spine specialist will not follow you for other diagnoses or conditions.

What is the usual recovery time for my specific surgery?

When you have a consultation with a specialist he will be able to give you specific parameters regarding your surgery. Feel free to bring a list of questions to your appointment.

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How long will the new patient appointment be?

New patient appointments are approximately one hour in duration. Please note that unexpected delays may cause longer waits for appointments. Please prepare and make arrangements accordingly.

How long are MRI and x-ray appointments?

MRI scans are scheduled by appointment through UCLA Radiology, which require you to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled procedure. The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes per level (example: cervical spine). If you will be scanned in multiple areas, the procedure will take longer (example: cervical and thoracic spine together would take about 60 minutes).

If I get my MRI today will the results be available right away?

If your MRI is done at UCLA or Santa Monica UCLA, the images will be available online for the UCLA doctor to view once the scan is completed. It will take 1-3 days before the radiology report will be available for the doctor.

Do I need to bring all of my medical records?

Please bring spine-related medical records.

If I am a self-pay patient, what is the cost of the consultation?

To find out a quote, call the appointment line at 310-319-3475. Please be prepared to pay with credit card, check, cash or money order at the time of the appointment.

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Do I need to see a surgeon?

We have instituted a new policy to ensure that you are indeed scheduled to see the appropriate sub-specialist. Surgery is considered to be the last step for treatment of spine patients and usually follows only after conservative treatment. We can have you see the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center physiatrist for work up, who will evaluate you and provide further therapy, appropriate medications and epidural injections if indicated. Patients who undergo epidural injections may not need surgery. If you have failed conservative care, the physiatrist will refer you to a surgeon for a surgical consultation.

Although some patients prefer to see a surgeon on their initial visit, unless they have tried and failed conservative care, they may not be surgical candidates and will need to be treated by a non-operative physician first. This policy allows patients that have been through conservative care and are ready for surgery to see a surgeon when the need for surgery presents.

Patients with acute onset of weakness or bowel and bladder symptoms require immediate surgical consultation.

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