Dr. Clifford Solomon on trends in spinal cord injury surgery


Clifford T. Solomon, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center and the director of the UM BWMC Spine and Neuroscience Center. Dr. Solomon recently spoke with Becker's Spine Review about key trends in spinal cord injury surgery.

Question: What major trends do you see in spinal cord injury surgery?

Dr. Clifford Solomon: With the advent of better 3D virtual imaging with computer-assisted surgery, I think you will see more surgeries done for complex spine trauma that are more accurate, less invasive and of superior quality. One significant advantage in computer-assisted surgery will be the ability to confirm that the purposed surgery was done prior to leaving the operating room. This could save patients further surgery in the sub-acute period. In addition, the rapid interest in research and development in the area of intraoperative robotics should have a profound effect. This technology exists, but I believe that we will only improve workflow, safety, and efficiency to the point that most major centers will use this technology on a daily basis.

Q: Have you noticed a change in the population of patients undergoing surgery for SCI?

CS: When looking at population demographics, it is clear that the baby boomers are heading into their golden years and living longer, which will increase the number of SCI patients for that age group.  In addition, with the increasing interest in extreme sports by millennials, it is inevitable that we will see higher rates of higher velocity SCIs.  Hopefully with the advent of biologics and stem cells we will see scientific data proving better outcomes in SCI patients. It is imperative for us as a society to embrace new technologies, including minimally invasive surgical techniques with biologics and most likely stem cells, and ensure that they are used in a safe and ethical way.

Q: Will biologics be a viable alternative to SCI surgery in the next decade?

CS: To this end, it is my hope and belief that biologics will be an adjunct or even an alternative to SCI surgery over the next decade.

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