Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Dr. Richard G. Fessler of Northwestern University

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |
Richard G. Fessler, MD, a professor of neurosurgery Northwestern University, has pioneered several spine surgery techniques, including microendoscopic discectomy and microendoscopic compression of lumbar stenosis. He has also earned a place as a leader in spine surgery by being the first physician in the United States to perform human embryonic spinal cord transplantation.

Dr. Richard Fessler"We're at the point now where we can do almost all of our surgeries of the spine through minimally invasive techniques," said Dr. Fessler in a 2008 Northwestern news release. During his time with Northwestern, he applauded the facility's combination neurological and orthopedic expertise with physical medicine and rehabilitation, radiology, physical therapy and specialized nursing to create a "one-stop shopping" atmosphere.

Dr. Fessler has served as the chairman of the joint section on disorders of the spine and peripheral nerves of the American Association of Neurological Surgery and Congress of Neurological Surgery, as well as the president of the Florida Neurological Society. He has served on the board of directors of the North American Spine Society. Dr. Fessler is a member of the Neurological Devices Panel of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the FDA and chairs the FDA's Neurosurgery Advisory Forum.

He is currently participating in a trial to test the use of embryonic stem cells in patients with thoracic spine injuries. During the procedure, physicians inject a specific type of embryonic stem cells directly into the injury site. The cells create myelin to protect the nerves.

"[After an injury], some of the neurons are destroyed, but some aren't. They are just injured and not functioning properly," said Dr. Fessler in a local WGN report. "Those are the neurons we are hoping to be able to capture and return their function to a more normal state. The cells should grow, they should establish connection and they should spread up and down the spinal cord to some extent in order to continue their wrapping of the injured nerves."

Dr. Fessler earned his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in neurological surgery. He also completed research fellowships in physiatry and neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Read more coverage on orthopedic and spine industry leaders:

- Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Dr. Todd J. Albert of Philadelphia's Rothman Institute

- Orthopedic and Spine Industry Leader to Know: Dr. Russell Warren of the Hospital for Special Surgery

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