Ali A. Baaj, MD's portrait
Ali A. Baaj, MD
Chief of Spine Surgery
Associate Professor of Neurological & Orthopedic Surgery
University of Arizona / Banner - University Medical Center
Phoenix, AZ
Dr. Baaj is a member of the SpineUniverse Editorial Board.

About Ali A. Baaj, MD

Dr. Baaj is Chief of Spine Surgery and Associate Professor of Neurological & Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Arizona and Banner - University Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. He specializes in spinal surgery and has advanced training and expertise in pediatric and adult spinal oncology and complex reconstructive surgery for spinal deformity.

Dr. Baaj received his medical degree from Boston University College of Medicine. He completed a general surgical internship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore followed by a neurosurgical residency at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Dr. Baaj advanced his training as a Research Fellow at the Spinal Biomechanics Laboratory at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix and as a Complex Spine Fellow at Johns Hopkins, with an emphasis on advanced techniques in spinal tumor resection and spinal reconstruction. Furthermore, Dr. Baaj completed a two-month traveling fellowship in Paris studying advanced techniques for pediatric deformity and scoliosis, with an emphasis on neuromuscular and idiopathic scoliosis.

Dr. Baaj is a prolific author of more than 100 abstracts and manuscripts. He is the author of many book chapters with emphasis on spinal anatomy, minimally invasive spine surgery, and advanced surgical techniques. He serves on the editorial boards of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques. He is a peer reviewer for these journals as well as for the European Spine Journal and the International Journal of Spine Surgery. Dr. Baaj is also the lead editor of the Handbook of Spine Surgery, now in its 2nd edition.

Articles Written by Ali A. Baaj, MD

Decompression Surgery Indirectly Improves Glycemic Control in Patients with Diabetes and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This is the first study to show the effects of lumbar stenosis surgery on Diabetes Mellitus.

How Multiple Myeloma of the Spine Is Diagnosed

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that can weaken and damage the bones of your spine. Learn more about the multi-faceted steps leading to diagnosis.

Multiple Myeloma of the Spine

Multiple myeloma is the third most common blood cancer in the US, according to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. It typically occurs in people older than age 50, and is more common in men and African Americans.

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma in the Spine

Multiple myeloma is a complex disease with no known cause. This blood cancer affects each person differently—some people have a variety of symptoms, while others experience none.

Chronic Back and Neck Pain in America—Snapshot of Survey Results

Whether you participated in the SpineUniverse Chronic Back Pain in America survey in 2015 or not you may find the results quite interesting.

Case Studies Presented by Ali A. Baaj, MD

Progressive Scoliosis and Multiple Epiphyseal Dysplasia

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
Adolescent female with multiple ephysial dysplasia was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 12. She presents with progressive back pain, left hip pain and worsening posture.

Minimally Invasive Treatment of Adjacent Segment Disease

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
An elderly female presents two years after an open L4-S1 surgery at an outside institution with progressive mechanical back pain and neurogenic claudication. She had attempted non-operative measures with minimal relief.

Revision Surgery for Pseudarthrosis after Thoracolumbar Fracture Stabilization

Presented by: A. Baaj MD, I. Hussain MD
Adult male sustained L1 and L2 fractures during a helicopter crash. One year after treatment elsewhere, the patient presents with pseudarthrosis and debilitating back pain.

Thoracolumbar Junction Osteomyelitis with Kyphotic Deformity

Presented by: A. Baaj MD, J. Uribe MD, FAANS, D. Smith MD
The patient is a 54-year-old woman with a prior history of IV drug abuse. She was hospitalized in 2007 with spinal osteomyelitis at T11-T12. This was treated with IV antibiotics. She was admitted multiple times in the last several months for chronic refractory osteomyelitis (MRSA on biopsy) at T11-L1 despite prolonged courses of antiobiotics.

Metastatic Tumor to the Spine: Compression and Instability

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
The patient is a 44-year-old woman with a prior history of left-sided nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma. She presented 6 months later with acute mechanical back pain and intermittent urinary incontinence.

Adult Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Deformity

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
A 71-year-old female presented with mechanical back pain, neurogenic claudication and worsening posture. Her primary complaint was progressive forward posture as noticed by her and family.

C1-C2 Fracture with Atlantoaxial Subluxation

Halo, Anterior Approach, Posterior Approach?
Presented by: A. Baaj MD
Spine case: an 87-year-old man presents after being struck by a car. Work-up reveal C1-C2 fracture: how would you treat him?

Severe L5 Burst Fracture

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
This young adult presented with severe lower back pain, bowel and bladder incontinence, and no movement in his right foot following a motor vehicle accident.

Thoracic Spinal Cord Tumor

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
The patient is a 76-year-old female with progressive lower extremity numbness and subjective weakness. Imaging revealed a thoracic pial-intramedullary lesion.

Double Major Curve in an Adolescent

Presented by: A. Baaj MD
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with double major curvature in a premenarchal female who presented with worsening spinal deformity. There was no family history of scoliosis.

Articles Reviewed by Ali A. Baaj, MD

No Consensus on Drains and ACDF Among Twitter Docs

Do you use a drain in a multi-level ACDF? The Twittersphere weighs in on a surprisingly divisive question.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Center

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine. In severe ankylosing spondylitis, the disease causes new bone formation causing bones in the spine to fuse together.

Is Your Spine Practice Principle-Based?

A principle-based spine surgeon chooses the best technique for each patient instead of the surgery technique at which they’re best, says Ali A. Baaj, MD.

How Can Virtual Reality in Medicine Enhance the Patient Experience?

Virtual reality, already established in brain surgery, is starting to prove its value as a patient-education tool in the spine setting. Here’s how VR in medicine can enhance the patient experience.

Virtual Conference Brings Spine Specialist Community Together

The Virtual Global Spine Conference allows specialists around the world to gather and learn on Zoom for free in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Effective Value-Based Initiatives for Complex Spine Surgery

Dr. Rajiv Sethi’s research lead to development of a spine safety improvement model that includes key factors needed at the individual, team, and organizational level to guide quality and safety improvement initiatives.

Challenges of Spine Surgery in Patients With Osteoporosis

Management of spine surgery in patients with osteoporosis poses many challenges, given the additional complexity that poor-quality bone introduces to the surgical management.

Epidural Steroid Injection Before Spine Surgery Linked to Postoperative Infection

The timing of lumbar epidural steroid injection (LESI) treatment before spinal fusion surgery may be an important risk factor for postoperative infection.

Arachnoid Web of the Spine: Optimal Detection and Management

Systematic review of surgically treated patients with arachnoid web of the spine provides a comprehensive review of the published literature on AWS to help physicians who see these patients.

Spinal Cancer: What You Should Know

SpineUniverse spoke with Ali A. Baaj, MD, who answers questions about spinal cancer; what it is, who is at risk, and how spinal cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Spine Surgery

Surgical treatment of ankylosing spondylitis is recommended to treat unstable spinal fractures, progressive spinal deformity (kyphosis), and/or neurological problems, such as abnormal reflexes and extremity weakness.

Insurance Status Linked to Quality of Care During Hospitalization for Primary Spinal Neoplasms

Insurance status was a significant predictor of experiencing adverse quality events during hospitalizations for primary spinal neoplasms in a recent retrospective cohort study.

Criteria for Fusion After Spinal Cord Tumor Surgery Described in Review Article

A recent literature review identified seven criteria for instrumented fusion after spinal cord tumor resection in adults. Overall, 8% of adults with spinal cord tumor surgery required fusion.

Changes in the Care of Head and Neck Injuries in Helmeted Student Athletes

The care of helmeted student athletes following a concussion and possible spine injury has changed over the past decade with new research and revised protocols included in this evolution.

Number of Cervical Spine Surgeries Increased in the Last Decade

“I think the overall trends regarding the number of cervical spine procedures is increasing due to a multitude of factors".

Financial Disclosures

SpineUniverse, a Remedy Health Media, LLC website, is committed to ensuring that the medical information it presents is accurate, balanced, objective, and trustworthy.

To help achieve this goal, SpineUniverse requires all authors, editors, and reviewers to disclose any financial relationships or affiliations they have with companies whose products or services may be mentioned in the content they author, edit, or review.

The intent of this policy is to identify any perceived, potential, or real conflicts of interest so that readers can make their own judgments about the value of information being presented.

Author's Statement

I, or an immediate family member, have a financial interest(s) or affiliation(s) with the following commercial companies whose products and / or services may be mentioned in the materials I have authored, edited or reviewed for presentation on Remedy Health Media, LLC’s websites.

Disclosed Relationships

Consultant/Independent Contractor