Spotlight title
A selection of current topics relevant to spine surgery  |  SEPTEMBER 2013
from competitor to colleague


From competitor to colleague

The evolution of partnership between neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons.

A more positive relationship between neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons has paved the way for advances in research and medical care as experience is combined for the good of the patient. It is a successful model that is rewarding surgeons who work as a team towards improved spine health. Read more...


Stem cell repair

Cell replacement improves motor function in rats with injured spinal cords

San Diego, US. Researchers from the University of California San Diego injected fetal human neural stem cells into the spines of rats with spinal cord compression injuries and found that rats who received the injection showed progressive and notable improvement. Looking at motor and sensory function, muscle spasticity and rigidity, and integration of grafted cells, long term progress was observed in relation to the structural integrity of the previously injured spine segments. Published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy, the study authors wrote: “Importantly, spinal cavity formation and muscle spasticity are frequently observed in human patients with high-speed, high-impact induced spinal cord injuries. Our findings demonstrate that human fetal spinal cord-derived neural stem cells, with an already established favorable clinical safety profile, represent a potential cell candidate for cell replacement therapy in patients with traumatic spinal injuries.”


strutural changes

Tracking loss of spinal cord tissue helps evaluating therapeutic treatments

Zurich, Switzerland. A study of 13 patients with severe spinal cord injuries showed that clinical outcome corresponded to the extent of irreversible degeneration in the spinal cord over the 12 month study period. Collaborating researchers from the University of Zurich, University Hospital Balgrist and University College London used novel MRI protocols, scanning study participants every three months, looking for an indicator that could be used to help determine the rate and extent of cord damage. Within 40 days post-injury the spinal cord had decreased in diameter rapidly and by twelve months was seven percent smaller. “Patients with a greater tissue loss above the injury site recovered less effectively than those with less changes,” stated Patrick Freund, study investigator at the Paraplegic Center Balgrist. The study offers a novel way for investigators to evaluate the effects of rehabilitation activities and therapeutic treatments more quickly and provides insight into mechanisms of recovery.

Teaching hospitals

Teaching hospitals have no higher mortality risk after cervical spine surgery

Chicago, US. When the rates of complications and death after cervical fusion surgery were compared between teaching and non-teaching hospitals, a study by Dr Kern Singh from the Rush University Medical Center showed that teaching hospitals had twice as high mortality rates and slightly higher complication rates. However, the risk was equalized once researchers accounted for the fact that teaching hospitals perform more complex surgeries, such as multilevel fusions, and treat more people with pre-existing conditions. After adjustment for these and other factors, undergoing surgery at a teaching hospital was no longer associated with a higher mortality risk. In contrast, older age and certain medical conditions remained significant risk factors. Published in the journal Spine, the accompanying editorial stated: “This study should provide reassurance to patients that the presence of a teaching hospital will have little, if any, effect on their surgical outcomes,” wrote Dr Timothy S Carey of University of North Carolina.

Alexander Tsiaras


Interview with Alexander Tsiaras, Founder / CEO, “The VisualMD”

“Surgeons will be able to manipulate virtual surgical tools that even allow deformation of tissue.”

An innovator, artist, computer programmer, speaker and author, Alexander Tsiaras is a wildly talented entrepreneur. His company, TheVisualMD, develops health videos, virtual learning tools and scientific visualization software focusing on graphic representation of the human body. He spoke to Spotlight about the relationship between art and science, and his latest projects. Read more...


AOSpine events

Key regional events Sep 2013 – Jan 2014


AOSpine Advances Course

registerYokohama, Japan – September 26–28, 2013


AOSpine Spine Tumor Symposium: A Hands-on Human Anatomic Specimen Course

registerBaltimore, Maryland – September 27–28, 2013


AOSpine Master Symposium—Cervical Spine

registerPretoria, South Africa – October 17–18, 2013


AOSpine Masters Symposium—Spinal Tumor and Infection

register Istanbul, Turkey – October 25–26, 2013


Simpósio Interativo Avançado AOSpine: Trauma das transições da Coluna Vertebral

register Brasília, Brazil – November 1–2, 2013


AOSpine Masters Symposium—Degenerative Spine

registerDubai, United Arab Emirates – January 17–18, 2013



Click here for a listing of all events


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