Justin Park, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon with The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
He has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery, spinal fusion, spinal trauma and deformity correction. Here, Dr. Park discusses the biggest technology trends in the field and where he sees the best opportunities for future innovation.
Question: What emerging technology or technique do you think will have the biggest impact on the spine field five years from now?
Dr. Justin Park: I think that motion-preservation technologies such as cervical disc replacement will become a bigger player in the surgical toolbox of spine surgeons. As insurance companies such as Medicare have become more open minded in approving these surgeries in the last five years, we will see a growing population of patients with excellent results from long-term follow-up.
Q: What do you think will fade or disappear from the spine field over the next few years?
JP: Overpriced implants that are 'trendy and flashy' will quickly fade into the horizon if they do not demonstrate a superiority in performance. As hospitals and insurance companies strive to cut costs and run a leaner business model, spinal implants that cost two to three times more than a standard pedicle screw will be highly scrutinized.
Q: Where do you see the biggest room for innovation in spine?
JP: Some of my biggest challenges today as a spine surgeon are those patients with severe osteoporosis. Oftentimes their spine issues arise from the osteoporosis itself (compression fractures) or their problems are exacerbated from the condition itself (hardware failure in osteoporotic bone). There is ample room for innovation from a standpoint of general drugs to treat osteoporosis — currently Forteo is the only drug demonstrated to marginally increase bone density — and surgical implants that have better fixation in osteoporotic bone.
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For a deeper dive into the future of spine, attend the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC in Chicago, June 13-5, 2019. Click here to learn more and register.