March 25 2021

Take two: Five times people can benefit from a second opinion

By Accolade


Getting an expert medical opinion can make a big difference when a person is considering surgery, facing a new, or long-term diagnosis. That’s why 2nd.MD – now part of Accolade –connects members to world-class specialists from top teaching and medical institutions within a few days to provide an expert opinion and and help them to understand their diagnosis and treatment. Here are five examples of when a second opinion can be a good idea. 

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor . From muscle strains to herniated discs, and more, back pain is typically a symptom, not a disease itself. Studies have shown that treating the symptom of back pain with an invasive spinal fusion surgery, which sees two adjacent vertebrae joined together to form a single unit, is rarely more useful than nonsurgical treatment

Non-surgical methods such as physical therapy, exercise and other modifications often help to alleviate pain and improve quality of life for many individuals. For this reason, many members seek an expert medical opinion when a potentially life-changing surgery such as spinal fusion is being considered.


Hysterectomy, or the removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries and/or other organs, is performed in a number of different ways for various reasons. Women have a hysterectomy as treatment for cancer, benign fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, pelvic adhesions, heavy bleeding and pain. 

There are often many alternatives to hysterectomy, depending on the underlying condition and symptoms. Medication, physical therapy, and localized ablation or removal are all examples of alternatives to hysterectomy. If a hysterectomy is chosen, it can be performed abdominally, vaginally, or laparoscopically. It is a major surgery when the uterus is removed through the abdomen. Vaginal hysterectomy is more minimally invasive and the uterus is removed through the vagina without any incisions to the stomach. A laparoscopic hysterectomy is another less invasive procedure in which a small incision is made in the belly button and a tiny camera is inserted to guide the removal of the uterus.

The type of procedure recommended for a member depends upon their history, health, and current symptoms. Because there are many ways to treat the issue at hand, as well as alternatives, a second opinion can help provide clarity on which procedure is right for a given member. 

Weight Loss (Bariatric) Surgery

Weight loss surgeries remove or bypass part of the digestive tract so the body has a harder time absorbing calories, or they will shrink the stomach in order to slow down digestion. There are also newer procedures that interrupt nerve signals between the stomach and the brain. 

Each of these surgeries comes with its own risks and benefits. For example, gastric banding is simpler than some of the other newer procedures and is potentially reversible. However, people who have this surgery generally experience less dramatic weight loss than is seen with other procedures, such as gastric bypass.

People who undergo bariatric surgery generally lose a lot of weight in the first 12-18 months and often see an improvement in conditions that go along with obesity such as diabetes. But since they don’t absorb nutrients the same way post-surgery, these procedures can leave individuals at risk for anemia and osteoporosis.

Identifying the right variety of weight loss surgery depends on the person’s health, body type, long-term needs, and risk factors, making it an excellent candidate for an expert medical opinion.


As cancer tests, treatment, and diagnosis changes rapidly, finding a specialist that has worked with the individual’s cancer and is up-to-date on the latest research is very important. Specialists have begun recommending treatments based on the individual’s type of cancer, makeup, molecular markers, and stage. 

Specialists can help understand if a cancer has spread and can match members with treatments that fit their particular cancer. This helps members by delivering the right amount of treatment to match the cancer so if a cancer is less aggressive, doctors can treat it with treatments that aren’t as harsh and have fewer side effects. 

Heart Disease

Cardiovascular diseases are those that affect the heart and blood vessels. These disorders may occur anywhere in the body such as in the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, brain, arms and legs, or blood clots that travel from one part of the body to another. 

Because these diseases are so varied, they can have many symptoms, and many underlying causes. If a person is dealing with a long-term issue such as coronary artery disease, which is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart and other parts of the body, an expert medical opinion through 2nd.MD can help them understand what treatments will help them feel better and avoid more serious disease.  

During an emergency such as a heart attack or stroke, it is also important to get advice. Though acute emergencies like a heart attack or stroke should be addressed as such, after they have been stabilized, expert medical opinion services like 2nd.MD can help members understand more about treatment options such as surgeries and find the right care for them going forward.