Why Dr. Thomas Schuler says arthroplasty, artificial intelligence are the top 2 areas in spine surgery

Written by Laura Dyrda | November 14, 2017 | Print  |

Thomas Schuler, MD, founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and has grown the practice to deliver cutting-edge spine care to patients, including regenerative therapy, stem cell therapy and artificial disc replacement. Dr. Schuler performed the first hybrid multilevel cervical artificial disc replacement with spinal fusion in the country.

Here, Dr. Schuler discusses the top advances in spine today and the best opportunities for data collection and reporting in the future.


Dr. Schuler 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 mjodoin@beckershealthcare.com or Kristelle Khazzaka at Kkhazzaka@beckershealthcare.com for further information about sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities.


Question: What are the top one or two advances occurring in spine surgery today? What opportunities should surgeons jump on to stay at the head of the field?

Dr. Thomas Schuler: The top two areas affecting spine surgery are artificial intelligence and arthroplasty. Both of these shift the paradigm of decision-making and treatment options. Artificial intelligence applied to robotic surgery simplifies surgeries, decreasing complication rates while enabling smaller, less invasive operations. These preserve more natural passive and active stabilizers of the spine, minimizing adjacent segment disease. Arthroplasty is achieving a similar outcome by protecting adjacent segments. Regenerative medicine is impacting nonoperative care and providing a new option for mild adjacent segment pathology.


Q: How do you see data collection and reporting affecting spine surgeons and their practice in the future?


TS: Data collection will lead big data and payers and industry to standardize payments and availability of devices. The problem comes from a negative impact on customized care. This data collection will lump care and not individualize it. In cancer therapies, the shift is toward customized treatment for specific genetic markers. Spine will go the opposite direction, with current attempts at data collection and payers' current desire to decrease utilization of essential treatments.


More articles on spine surgery:
Dr. Ken Nwosu joins Neospine
Cervical disc replacement increases 190% in 7 years, fusion up 5.7%: 5 key trends
Dr. Arthur Jenkins to leave academic post at Mount Sinai for independent practice in 2018

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