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5 Conditions That Call For A Second Medical Opinion

Most Common Health Conditions That Call For A Second Opinion

A medical diagnosis is the best way to decide the treatment path for a particular condition. But the symptoms of some disease are so subtle or over-lapping that it confuses even the most experienced doctors. Whereas in other cases, the patient, as well as the doctor, knows exactly what’s wrong but they can’t decide on the right treatment. This is the situation where the role of medical second opinion comes into play. Seeking a medical second opinion is always welcome but it is a must in the following five cases.

1) Rare or “Difficult-To-Diagnose” Cancers

Cancer diagnosis

If a patient has been diagnosed with unusual cancer or if the doctor has confusion whether it is truly cancer then a second opinion from a pathologist who has expertise in this field is the best way to determine the condition and decide upon the best treatment. There are certain kinds of tumors that are difficult to diagnose. For example, sarcomas – it is an uncommon cancer of the soft tissues such as fat or muscles and it can be complex to identify or classify. A general pathologist may not be familiar with cancer of soft tissues. Major medical centers that deal with rare and unusual tumors are a better choice for the second opinion.

John E. Tomaszewski, MD, FASCP, vice chairman of Anatomic Pathology-Hospital Services at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says “Anytime there’s uncertainty, it’s always fine to get a second opinion.” “Pathology is like every other area of medicine. There are things that are very clear and things that are on the borderline.”

2) Heart Procedures

Heart Procedures

Heart patients who have been suggested any invasive heart procedure as the only mode of treatment should opt for a second opinion. According to David L. Rutlen, MD, vice chairman of ambulatory programs at the Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin, a patient who has been advised to have open heart surgery or a coronary intervention or a catheterization should seek a second opinion to ensure if they really need it. Patients often want extra advice before consenting for such invasive procedures that carry serious health risks such as stroke, infection, blood clots or death. A second opinion helps to clear a patient’s concerns about the treatment plan that is best for him/her. Patients also seek a medical second opinion in case of heart procedure in hopes of finding a more experienced surgeon who can perform the procedure.

3) Parkinson’s Disease

parkinson disease

According to Executive Director Robin Elliott of the Parkinson’s disease Foundation, “Parkinson’s is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose. There’s no blood test, X-ray, or instrument that would give you an answer,” Diagnosis of this neurological disorder depends on a collection of features which makes it difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Parkinson’s disease is marked by slow movement, tremors, muscle stiffness and loss of balance in the patient. Elliot says that the rate of misdiagnosis among people suffering from Parkinson’s can be as high as 25 to 30%. In many cases, the trembling and slow movement are dismissed as results of aging. Even well-trained neurologists can have difficulty in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, the Parkinson’s disease Foundation suggests that those diagnosed with Parkinson’s should get a second opinion from a neurologist who has wide experience with the disorder.

4) ADHD In Children Below 6 Years Of Age

ADHD in Children

ADHD (attention hyperactivity disorder) can be difficult to diagnose because there are not specific lab tests for this condition. The diagnosis mainly depends on the doctor’s judgment. He may diagnose ADHD by studying the symptoms shown by the child-hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, etc. in different settings, such as in the school and at home. When children under 6 years of age are diagnosed with ADHD, parents often seek a second opinion from a specialist because the noticeable symptoms of ADHD such as too much talking, fidgeting and hyperactivity overlap with the behavior that is typical among young children. A second opinion can help to determine whether the symptoms are serious enough to considered ADHD. A second opinion also helps to rule out the chances of other mental disorders that can be confused with ADHD. These may include learning disability, depression and anxiety and developmental problems.

5) Depression And Bipolar Disorder


Primary care physicians can diagnose cases of depression, but sometimes a medical second opinion from Psychiatry is recommended if the patient’s condition does not improve even after treatment consisting of antidepressants or if the treatment shows adverse effects. This may be a case of Bipolar disorder, where the patient should seek psychiatric second opinion. A second opinion helps to clear a patient’s concerns about the treatment plan that is best for him. Patients also seek second opinion in case of heart procedure in hopes of finding a more experienced surgeon who can perform the procedure.

Some patients with Bipolar disorder don’t have manic episodes early on; therefore, doctors often misdiagnose it as a case of depression. Patients with a less severe form of Bipolar disorder may never develop intense mania but only have milder maniac episodes and depression. According to Mark Graber, MD, chief of the medical service at the VA Medical Center in Northport, N.Y. as many as 69% of Bipolar patients receive a wrong initial diagnosis.

When Is The Best Time To Seek Medical Second Opinion?

It is never too late to seek a second medical opinion, but it is best to opt for it soon after a health condition or problem is diagnosed. But you can seek a second opinion even after beginning the treatment.

Conditions that require second opinion are usually complicated or are poorly understood. Seeking a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in the condition helps you to have a better understanding of your condition, removes doubts, confusions and queries from your mind, helps you to weigh the pros and cons of the available treatment options and finally helps you to make informed and educated decision about the treatment that is best for you.

Are you thinking about getting a second medical opinion but don’t know how to get a referral is here to help you? It is a premium online second opinion service platform where you can get your diagnosis and treatment reviewed by globally acclaimed doctors and specialists.

[cl-review quote=”Medically Reviewed By” author=”Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)” occupation=”Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad” avatar_image=”1325″ source=”|target:_blank”]

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