What will 2024 bring for spine, orthopedic surgery? 4 surgeons weigh in

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Spine and orthopedic surgeons can expect to see a larger push for minimally invasive techniques, increased use of new technology and some economic challenges in 2024, according to four surgeons. 

Four surgeons recently spoke with Becker's about their predictions for next year.

Editor's note: These responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: What changes do you expect to see in the spine and/or orthopedic surgery industries in 2024?

Adam Bitterman, DO. Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Huntington (N.Y.) Hospital and Assistant Professor at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell (Hempstead, N.Y.): Orthopedic and spine device companies will continue to advance the mission of "less through more." There has been a major push to advance minimally invasive surgery, and as such, the orthopedic industry must continue to innovate and create technologies to produce and maintain high quality outcomes without additional risk while maintaining a cost conscientious approach. 

Sean Rajaee, MD. Co-Director of the Outpatient Hip and Knee Center and Arthroplasty Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles): I expect to see a bigger push toward utilization of technology in orthopedic surgery, particularly the introduction of artificial intelligence for decision-making preoperatively and operatively with robotic technology. But this will take years to evolve. 

Peter Whang, MD. Professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn.): I expect that 2024 will continue to be a difficult environment for surgeons as well as orthopedic and spinal implant companies.  Considering the looming cuts in Medicare reimbursement for our services in the setting of increasing expenses, we are facing significant headwinds that make the practice of medicine almost untenable for surgeons and our industry partners alike. In response to these challenges, I believe that we will see an even greater shift of orthopedic and spinal procedures to the outpatient setting in an attempt by surgeons to establish more diverse income streams while providing more cost-effective care. Likewise, I anticipate that there will be further consolidation in our industry as more companies grapple with the stark economic realities of our healthcare system. Despite these myriad issues, I remain optimistic about the future of orthopedic and spinal surgery. which I am confident will continue to advance in terms of the development of novel technologies and the ability to improve the clinical outcomes of our patients.

Hasan Zaidi, MD. Co-Director of the Adult Deformity/Scoliosis Center and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School (Boston) and Director Spine Research at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston): I expect to see spine technologies on the horizon that allow spine surgical navigation to be safer, less obtrusive to the surgical workflow, continual registration/recalibration, and at a lower cost. Democratization of spine surgical navigation outside of major academic medical centers, with lower cost and higher fidelity navigation tools are the future.

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