Global Advances in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

3D GlobeHere in the U.S., we have no real shortage of options. From cars to clothes and everything in between – choices abound. The same can be said for our second-to-none health care options – including spine surgery. From the latest in minimally invasive surgical options to stem cell therapy and even conservative alternatives to surgery – most patients have more than one choice in how to go about the treatment of their spine conditions. We are fortunate. It isn’t this way in every country – not even close. But when it comes to the advancement of minimally invasive spine surgery, there is hope.

I recently made a trip to Brazil to speak on Advances in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at the 15th Brazilian Spine Congress. This meeting brought together global spine experts to discuss the latest advances in the global treatment of spinal deformities and conditions. It is incredible to see the international work and dedication of outstanding surgeons who desire to expertly heal and make a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens. I witnessed one of my former fellows, now the president of this organization, spearhead the entire meeting, which hosted more than 1,000 spine surgeons from around the world. At the same time, he utilized those resources and brilliant minds to give back to the community by providing hundreds of free scoliosis screenings to local school children.

It is because of meetings like these, where global spine leaders come together to discuss and debate – that minimally invasive spine surgery continues to make the strides it does. These advances aren’t for show either. Just 40 years ago, the only available spine surgery procedures around the world (including in the U.S.) entailed long, complicated and dangerous procedures that far too frequently resulted in infections, permanent disability and even death. While plenty of countries don’t yet have the technological or physician resources to address spinal deformity the way we can in the U.S., there is great hope. Today, advances in minimally invasive spine surgery have led to greatly improved outcomes for patients – such that their lives can be restored and enhanced after spine surgery. That should be the goal for every spine patient, in every country, all around the world.

I know in the U.S. we debate quite a bit about which options are the best and safest for the treatment of specific spinal conditions. And while I’ve written and spoken at length on how that decision is different for each patient, returning from these meetings I am always filled with gratitude and hope. Because, for the vast majority of patients here, there is access and there are choices. I consult with patients all over the world who can only dream of the treatment choices we have here – and hope that one day they too might have access to experts who can offer them the possibility of freedom from spine pain and deformity. We global spine leaders are working hard to make that a reality. And we’ll keep coming together until it is.