The most challenging part of spine surgery isn't the procedure — Here's what is: 3 Qs with Montefiore's Dr. Jonathan Krystal

Written by Laura Dyrda | December 11, 2018 | Print  |

Johnathan Krystal, MD, is an orthopedic spine surgeon and clinical instructor of orthopedics at New York-based Montefiore Health System. He joined the hospital's orthopedic surgery department in August 2018 and specializes in spine treatment.

Dr. Krystal completed a fellowship in spine surgery at Rothman Institute at Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia and focuses his research on advanced technologies for spinal diseases. Here he discusses the biggest trends for early-career spine surgeons.

Question: What are the biggest concerns for your practice today?

Dr. Jonathan Krystal: The short answer is my patients. I think all young surgeons come out of training excited and eager to use their skills and knowledge to help their patients not only feel better but also to improve quality of life. Treatment of spinal disorders is complex. My primary goals with my patients are to make sure they understand their health issue, can comfortably participate in joint decision-making to improve their health, and to help facilitate recovery. I find the actual surgery to be the most straightforward aspect of my work. The surgical decision making and long-term care requirements for each person are not as straightforward – each person has different needs and life goals that must be considered.

Q: What are you most excited about in terms of technology advancement in the spine space? Where do you see the best opportunity for growth?

JK: This is a very exciting time to be in spine surgery. There have been major advances in implants and imaging over the past few years, but for me, the most exciting changes on the horizon involve robotics and robotic assisted surgery. Right now there is a growing base of technology being refined regarding robotic technologies. I think that as robotic surgery becomes even better, it will allow us to perform more complex surgeries faster, with smaller incisions and quicker recoveries.

Q: Where do you see your practice growing or evolving in the next five years? What is the next step or evolution in your career?

JK: I think over the next five years we're going to see the evolution of the multidisciplinary spine team. Many spinal disorders can be successfully treated without surgery, and in order to treat all patients in the most effective way, a team of physicians including surgeons, pain specialists and physiatrists need to work together to help guide people to the most appropriate care. The Spine Center at Montefiore is a leading example of how a multidisciplinary approach to care provides individualized and appropriate treatment options. As we continue to build and grow, I believe our patients will continue to benefit from individualized care plans to achieve their best outcome.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Laura Dyrda at

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.

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