The big trends, issues in spine shaping practices today

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Technology in the spine field is evolving, and surgeons are reshaping their practices to keep up.

Timothy Witham, MD, director of The Johns Hopkins Bayview Spine Program and The Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Spinal Fusion Laboratory, and Anil Dutta, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at UT Health San Antonio, discuss the most exciting technologies in spine and potential roadblocks in the future.

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What emerging technology are you most interested in today and why?

Dr. Timothy Witham: I think that robotics and augmented reality in spine surgery will improve our precision and efficiency, and ultimately lead to better outcomes. I think that these technologies really will change the future of spinal surgery and for that reason I am going to adapt my practice to incorporate them.

Dr. Anil Dutta: The emerging trends I'm most interested in include practical long-term genetic treatments or biological interventions to prevent orthopedic disease. Additionally, we will see more computer navigation. I'm adapting [my practice] with more training.

Q: What is the most dangerous trend in healthcare, spine or orthopedics today and why?

TW: The usual issues, mainly insurance companies dictating the way we care for patients and limiting the opportunities for patients to receive certain treatments.

AD: The most dangerous trend to me is the lack of emphasis on fundamentals of healthcare and building on core knowledge, instead favoring economics or government, hospital, and insurance policies [when making decisions].

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