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Test your knowledge of your back

How much do you know about backs and spines?

Thanks to the thriving Internet, patients have become more and more articulate. They research before they go see a doctor, asking tougher questions at the surgery and won't accept any advice just like that.

Some physicians are complaining, but at Bergman Clinics we welcome this. We like curious people who show an interest. Even more than that, I now challenge you to thoroughly test your knowledge of backs and spines. We will play a quiz, after which you may discover if you'd need to brush up on anything. For the real heroes: why don't you try this without Google! Here we go:


1. How many vertebrae are there in a human spine?

  1. 17
  2. 20
  3. 24
  4. 28
  • Click here for the answer

    The correct answer is C. A human being has 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae and 5 lumbar vertebrae.

2. How many weeks must you lay flat on your back after surgery on a slipped disk?

  1. 0 weeks
  2. 1 week
  3. 3 weeks
  4. 6 weeks
  • Click here for the answer

    The correct answer is A. Lying flat on your back is not done anymore, it would cause your muscle corset to deteriorate. On the contrary, you should move as much as possible, but prompted by what you can do. That is the most sensible thing to do (read blog number 8!).

3. Which tissue is not in the spinal canal?

  1. Sciatic nerve
  2. Blood
  3. Spinal cord
  4. Cerebral Spinal Fluid
  5. Muscle

4. In what position are you on the table during surgery on a slipped disk?

  1. On your side
  2. On your abdomen
  3. On your back
  4. In the salaam-position

5. Who will decide if a slipped disk needs an operation?

  1. Family doctor
  2. Neurologist
  3. Patient
  4. Neurosurgeon
  • Click here for the answer

    The correct answer is C. When you are seeing your family doctor with pain in your back and leg, or neck and arm, he or she can refer you to the neurologist for further neurological examination, a diagnosis and perhaps an MRI. If a slipped disk has been diagnosed, the neurologist can refer you to the neurosurgeon when the pain in your back and leg is severe and there has not been any natural improvement. The neurosurgeon can then propose an operation, but you will always be the one to decide if, after all the ins and outs of such an operation have been explained, you wish to undergo the proposed surgery.

6. When was the first surgery on a slipped disk performed and who did this?

  1. 430 (BC), by Hippocrates
  2. 1864, by Ernest Lasègue
  3. 1933, by Mixter and Barr
  4. 1977, by Gazi Yasargil
  • Click here for the answer

    The correct answer is C.

    Hippocrates was a Greek physician. He is considered the founder, the 'father' of Western medicine, because he was the first who saw natural causes of diseases instead of supernatural ones. Every candidate physician in the Netherlands must take ‘Hippocrates' oath', before being allowed to practice medicine. Hippocrates described many clinical pictures and symptoms including the lumbosciatica phenomenon: radiating pain in a leg.

    Ernest Lasegue described a maneuver to show a pinched sciatic nerve. Even today this test is still performed in neurological examinations.

    Mixter and Barr were 2 English surgeons who performed the first surgery on a slipped disk in 1933. They presented their operation and findings for the first time in London at the annual meeting of the New England Surgical Society in 1933.

    Gazi Yasargil is a Turkish medical scientist and neurosurgeon. He and Harvey Cushing are considered the two greatest neurosurgeons of the 20th century. He was the founder of micro-neurosurgery and was the first neurosurgeon who has operated on slipped disks using a microscope since 1967.

7. The surgery on your slipped disk has been performed. What does the tissue that the surgeon removed, look like?

  1. Chewing gum
  2. Tendon
  3. Cartilage
  4. Mucus

8. How does a slipped disk develop?

  1. Accident
  2. Lifting
  3. Spontaneous
  4. Genetic predisposition
  5. All answers are correct
  • Click here for the answer

    The correct answer is E. A slipped disk can be caused by: lifting, an accident, or a different incorrect movement. But the slipped disk will only manifest in people having a genetic predisposition for a bad intervertebral disk. So it is the DNA which will decide if such trauma will lead to a slipped disk.

9. Which animal has the biggest risk of getting a slipped disk?

  1. Giraffe
  2. Hamster
  3. Dog
  4. Monkey
  • Click here for the answer

    Het juiste antwoord is C.

    The correct answer is C.

    Of all animals, slipped disks mostly occur in dogs and then especially in dachshunds, but also more often in dobermans, French bulldogs, shih tzus, and Labrador retrievers. Very rarely in cats, and in monkeys only now and then: My colleague Dick Van Zuylen, animal orthopedist in Amsterdam (MCD), once succesfully operated on the slipped disk in a chimpanzee in Artis Zoo.

10. Which is not spinal surgery?

  1. Discectomy
  2. Craniotomy
  3. Spondylodese
  4. Laminectomy
  • Click here for the answer

    Het juiste antwoord is B.

    The correct answer is B.

    Discectomy is surgery on a slipped disk, craniotomy is brain surgery, spondylodese is spinal surgery where two or more vertebrae are being bolted together (see: conditions - unstable spine, in the menu at this website). Laminectomy is a spinal operation, where the back part of the spinal vertebra is removed in order to create more space for the spinal canal with the sciatic nerves (read blog number 9!).


And… was it easier than you expected or do you have no idea how you did? Quickly check your scores and see what kind of patient you are!

1 - 3 correct answers

No worries. Just leave the knowledge of spines to the experts; fortunately we know more about it!

4 - 6 correct answers

Make sure you listen well when you're at the surgery. You could always bring a friend or a relative, they are quite welcome and two people will remember more than one.

7 - 9 correct answers

You are a certificated patient, we are here, ready to answer all your critical questions.

10 correct answers

We're looking forward to receiving your application letter asap!

Surgery manual

Dr. Schröder is happy to inform you about the surgical treatment of your neck or back condition. He also discusses the possible complications of the procedure with you.

After you've carefully weighed up the pros and cons of the surgery, you can decide for yourself whether you consider your condition serious enough to operate.

View the surgery manual

  • Instructions for after you have left the clinic

    Once you leave the clinic:

    • Make sure that someone comes and picks you up in a car, and refrain from driving yourself
    • Make sure that you recline your car seat
    • Make sure that you are not home alone for the first few days following the operation
    • Allow the wound to heal for the first 2 to 3 weeks
    • You are allowed to shower, as the nurses will give you a waterproof plaster to cover your wound before you leave the clinic
    • You must not drive for 3 weeks, but you will be allowed to sit in the passenger seat while someone else drives you around
    • You are allowed to do whatever you feel up to, as long as you keep listening to your body and stop doing whatever it is you are doing whenever your body tells you to stop

    Your doctor, nurse and/or physiotherapist will provide you with more information on how to look after yourself following the operation.

  • How long will I have to stay at the clinic?

    Depends on the nature of the operation

    The duration of your stay with us will depend on your situation and on the type of surgery you are undergoing. If everything goes according to plan, and if you are undergoing a minor back or neck operation, you will only have to stay with us for one night. If you are undergoing major surgery, such as a spinal instability operation, you will generally have to spend a few nights at our clinics.

  • Swelling after surgery

    Swelling reduced after 2 to 3 months

    After the operation, your wound will swell, which may be painless but may also be a little uncomfortable due to your skin being pulled so taut. Generally speaking, the swelling will subside of its own accord within 2 to 3 months of the operation, and the skin will grow less thick.

  • Medication after surgery

    Following the operation, you will be given painkillers for as long as you need them. You will receive these painkillers in accordance with a set schedule. It is vital that you take your medication at the scheduled times, even when you are not experiencing any pain. In this way, your body will build up a steady level of analgesia.

    Most people will be able to stop taking painkillers a few days after undergoing back or neck surgery. If your painkillers somehow fail to provide you with a sufficient level of relief, we recommend that you notify a nurse as soon as possible. If you were on morphine-like medication prior to your operation, we advise that you gradually cut down on your medication after the operation, if your level of pain allows you to do so, in consultation with your GP. Acute withdrawal may result in adverse events.

  • Post-operative pain

    If you are experiencing an excessive amount of pain, you will receive additional painkillers

    The level of post-operative pain differs from person to person, and from operation to operation. Generally speaking, major lengthy operations will prove more painful than brief minor operations. At our clinics, all patients receive proper painkillers following surgery, as a result of which very few of our patients ever experience a great deal of pain. In consultation with yourself, we will determine your pain score, both at the ward and once you are home (we will call you to discuss this with you). If your pain score is too high, you will be given additional painkillers.

100% insurance covery

Nearly all treatments performed by Dr Schröder are covered by health insurance. This is true for the following conditions: neck hernia, spinal hernia, lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical spinal stenosis.

Read more

Dr Schröder's blog

Dr Schröder regularly publishes new articles on his blog. Read all about spinal hernia, neck hernia, spinal stenosis, neurosurgery and other related subjects.

View all blog posts

  • 13. On coincidence, bad luck and science

  • 12. Dozing off

  • 11. The Big Spinal Quiz for the articulate patient

  • 10. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson

Call 010 4361537 for an appointment