The future of MIS spine surgery technology — key thoughts from Dr. Jocelyn Idema


Jocelyn Idema, DO, is a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon practicing with Advanced Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in Washington, Pa.

Dr. Idema has significant experience with minimally invasive spine surgery as well as motion-sparing techniques. Here, she discusses innovative technology and where the spine field is headed over the next few years.


Dr. Idema will be speaking at the Becker's 16th Annual Future of Spine + The Orthopedic, Spine and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference. To learn more and register, click here. Contact Maura Jodoin at or Kristelle Khazzaka at for further information about sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities.


Question: What major innovations have allowed spine surgery to become less and less invasive? How will technology impact the spine industry in the coming years?


Dr. Jocelyn Idema: Less invasive and motion-preserving techniques are becoming the standards of spine care. There are many benefits to these types of surgeries, as they deliver the same quality of outcome but often with a faster recovery, speedier return to work and improved quality of life. There is a vast variety of techniques ranging from microdiscectomies for radicular leg symptoms, foraminotomies for arm pain, plate-less anterior cervical and lumbar fusions, lateral lumbar fusions, and even cervical and lumbar disc replacements.


For instance, there is recent data with regard to lumbar disc replacement and a five-year follow-through that has shown highly favorable patient outcomes and reduction in overall healthcare costs due to a significantly decreased revision rate for adjacent level pathology. As more insurance companies and hospital systems begin to align and recognize these significant changes in spine surgery, there will be more opportunities in the near future for improved quality of care.


Other innovative technologies, such as improved navigation systems, robotics and the various implant techniques, will continue to positively impact the spine industry in the future. It is important to note that although these technologies continue to change and improve, the spine industry must also balance the cost-effectiveness and value of these technologies, always striving for the best patient outcome and experience for the patient.


Q: How can orthopedic spine surgeons stay competitive today in the changing marketplace?


JI: There are a number of ways orthopedic spine surgeons can stay competitive in the changing marketplaces. Besides the traditional methods of direct consumer-patient marketing, orthopedic spine surgeons need to continue to think outside of the box with other media means, including radio, television and social media platforms. Many of these marketing avenues are limited initially by the regional culture by which patients have received their previous spine care.


However, by bringing the highest levels of quality spine care and a personalized/concierge type of patient care, many independent and private practice orthopedic spine surgeons can work through these heavy factory-type spine programs and focus more on quality for the patient than quantity for the business of medicine. Ultimately, patients will seek out spine surgeons who have the best outcomes and best experiences.



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