Cervical Spine Surgery: Most Interesting Innovations Today


At the 20th Annual Spine, Orthopedic + Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference, the keynote panel discussed the most interesting innovations of cervical spine surgery today. 

It was an esteemed panel of four surgeons: 

  • Scott Blumenthal, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and Co-Director, Center for Disc Replacement, Texas Back Institute
  • Brian Gantwerker, MD, Neurosurgeon, The Crainiospinal Center of Los Angeles
  • Maurice Goins, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, Resurgens Orthopaedics
  • Vladimir Sinkov, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Sinkov Spine Center

The panel was moderated by Alan Condon, Editor in Chief of Becker's Healthcare.

Key Takeaways:

1: Advancements in cervical spine technology

There have been significant advancements in cervical spine technology, such as 3D printed titanium cages, zero profile plates, and artificial disc replacements. However, predictive models for determining the best course of treatment are lagging behind, with revisions becoming more common as different discs are better suited for different patients. Understanding patient-specific needs is important for getting the best results.

2: Advancements in disc replacement technologies

Panelists discussed the advancements in disc replacement technologies, such as robust designs, more choices on the market, expansion of indications, and better design discs that can be used for those expanded indications. However, the biggest barrier to disc replacement is reimbursement, which disincentivizes doctors from doing the right thing due to lack of reimbursement.

3: Future of spinal surgery

In the next 10 years, disc manipulation will be more prevalent than fusion, and there will be better techniques to try and prevent surgery through lifestyle changes, stem cell technology, etcetera. Decades ago, hip and knee replacements needed to be revised, and it is predicted that in the future there will need to be designs of artificial discs made for revision arthroplasty as well as more understanding about the biomechanics of the spine. It is important that AI does not decide what surgery to do.

4: Outpatient procedures and artificial intelligence

Cervical fusions and anterior TDRs are done outpatient, with a 23 hour or less stay. For more challenging procedures, physicians should evaluate each patient individually. Artificial intelligence may help provide second opinions in elective surgeries, but it is important to remember the idea of "do no harm".

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