How to decide what side to do for surgery

My surgery was postponed to March 9th, so I have had some lovely time to continue with my symptoms. However, I am starting to question the doctors’ opinion that he wants to do the right side and not the left instead (he wont do both). The issue I have is my most symptomatic side is the left by FAR, but he wants to do the right even though I have expressed my left side hurts and cracks extremely bad. His reasoning is that the left is compensating for the right side, but I am nervous that the pain could even get worse on my left side once he removes the right one… Any thoughts?

The doctors generally have reasons for which side they do first, I’m sure @Isaiah_40_31 will tell you her story as Dr Samji did the same. I hope that March 9th soon comes round for you!

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I’m so glad you posted as I’ve been wondering how you’re doing!

I was TOTALLY in your shoes when I had my ES surgery consult. My left side was where my ES symptoms started & escalated. It wasn’t until I learned I had bilateral ES that I realized I had symptoms on my right side as well. When discussing surgery, Dr. Samji told me in, no uncertain terms, that he would be removing my right styloid first because of the angle it was growing & how thick it was. I was insistent that he remove the left first, but in the end, it was the right one that got removed as #1. I some had relief from the pain/symptoms caused by my left side for 6-8 weeks post op then they gradually came back & got worse until my second surgery.

In between surgeries, I had a terrible cycling accident w/ a head injury which postponed my second surgery & caused me to get Meniére’s Disease in my left ear. I think the head injury further stirred up the ES symptoms, & it caused my second surgery to be put off for 3 months longer than expected so I went 9 mos between surgeries. (Six months between was Dr. Samji’s protocol at that time.)

In the end, I will say that Dr. Samji made the best decision re: order of styloid removal as I was having some serious problems w/ my blood pressure bottoming out & heart palpitations + breathing issues which resolved after the first surgery. Dr. Hepworth can likely see things in the scans that make him feel removal of the right side first is more urgent. I’ve learned that, at some point, we must trust the judgment of the professionals we’ve chosen to treat us unless what they suggest is obviously off base.


I rarely comment, but wanted to share my experience in hopes it would help you. I argued with my doctor for some time about which side to do first for the exact same reason. I had continual symptoms on the right side, yet my doctor wanted to do the surgery on the left side only because it was longer. I went back and forth, and ended up doing the longer side based on additional input from another doctor and a physical therapist I was seeing. In my case, having the longer side removed definitely had a major affect on my body mechanics and a significant reduction in the pain I was having on the other, shorter styloid, side. Everyone’s experience is so different because the bones, ligaments and calcification are unique to each person - but, in my case doing the longer side has made such an improvement on both sides. Hope you can figure out what works best for you!


Thank you for your input, chrisc! I’m so glad to hear about your positive surgical experience. :blush: