Driving License

All of the advice below is relevant to Group 1 entitlement ( Domestic vehicles)

What do I do about driving?

The DVLA are concerned about patients with neurological problems who have a chance of an epileptic seizure, or may have difficulties driving due to difficulties using the controls or poor vision

If you have a disability that may affect you ability to drive, or you have had an operation that may lead to your license being suspended, it is your responsibility as the patient to inform the DVLA. Details are here

The information below is only a guide, if you have any doubts then please contact my secretary, or the DVLA directly

Spinal Surgery

Generally, most patients having spinal surgery will not need to contact the DVLA before or after their operation

Exceptions to this are rare occasions when you may have a problem with the strength or feeling in your arms or legs which makes it difficult to operate the steering and the pedals, especially the brake pedal, effectively.

For patients having lumbar microdiscectomy or laminectomy you can drive when you feel comfortable, and confident enough to operate a vehicle. Generally it is a good idea to avoid driving for a few days after surgery.

For patients having anterior cervical spine surgery including a fusion, you can drive as soon as your neck is sufficiently mobile to allow you to look side to side. As a general rule I allow patients to drive 2 weeks after surgery. There are no fixed guidelines about this, and some surgeons will ask you to stop driving for upto 6 weeks after surgery. This includes patients who wish to wear a soft collar for support.

If you have been given a rigid collar to wear after surgery then you should not drive until the collar is removed, this is because the collar limits you mobility, and the collar is there for a reason, namely to aid fusion of the bone at the operation site.

Posterior cervical surgery such as microforamenotomy and laminectomy means you neck will be slightly stiff for a few weeks. Once again you can drive when your neck is sufficiently mobile to allow you to look side to side, and you are able to safely operate the vehicle

Craniotomy

In the past the DVLA insisted that all patients having a craniotomy had their license suspended for 1 year or more

These rules have changed and depend on the nature of your diagnosis, whether you have had a seizure, and whether you have any disabilities as a result of the underlying problem. It is best to discuss the issue of driving with your consultant, sometimes you have to let the DVLA know if you are not sure.

As a general rule, if you have never had a seizure, and don’t have severely impaired vision or a severe disability then the following guidlines apply:

  • Craniotomy for meningioma 6-12 months no driving
  • Craniotomy for pituitary tumour Drive when recovered
  • Posterior fossa benign tumour Drive when recovered
  • Craniotomy for malignant tumour 2 years no driving, possibly longer

For a more complete list there is a table at the DVLA website which is meant for medical professionals only

Pituitary Surgery

Because abnormalities of the pituitary gland can often cause impaired vision, a formal visual assessment may be required before you are allowed to drive. Usually a severe visual problem affecting both eyes will prevent you from driving. You should contact the DVLA at the link above and a formal visual field assessment will be performed, together with a report from your consultant.

If you have had no seizures, and don’t have a severe visual problem then the following apply

  • Transsphenoidal resection of pituitary tumour Drive when recovered
  • Craniotomy for pituitary tumour Drive when recovered