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Emory orthopaedics faculty publish 'how-to' guide for spine surgery

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Holly Korschun

Spine surgeons in the Department of Orthopaedics at Emory University School of Medicine have published a textbook on their collective approach to the operative management of spinal disorders.

Emory University Spine – Illustrated Tips and Tricks in Spine Surgery, is an illustrated reference focusing on step-by-step, detailed descriptions of methods used by Emory faculty/physicians to perform the gamut of spine surgeries, from the occipito-cervical spine to the lumbar-sacral spine. 

Emory’s spine surgery faculty are members of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, one of the largest university-based multidisciplinary spine centers in the world. 

Each of the book’s 40 chapters was written by Emory spine faculty in conjunction with Emory spine fellows, and the book is replete with illustrations depicting the key technical details of each operation.

According to John M. Rhee, MD, the book’s editor and Emory professor of orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery, “The goal of this three-year project was to create a ‘how-to’ book on performing spine operations the way we do them at Emory.” 

Filled with information distilled from more than 100 years of collective practice experience from Emory spine faculty, each chapter begins with an illustrative case example, guides the reader through the key imaging findings to consider when performing surgery, lists any special equipment necessary, proceeds step by step through the operation from positioning to closure, and then concludes with key issues to watch out for postoperatively.

The Department of Orthopaedics at Emory University School of Medicine has led one of the most prestigious and highly sought-after spinal surgery fellowships for over three decades. Since its inception in 1989, the Emory spine surgery fellowship has trained 79 graduates, many of whom, like their mentors, have gone on to become national and international leaders in the field. 

Strong teaching has always been at the core of the Emory Spine Fellowship – its faculty are renowned not only for clinical expertise in treating complex spinal disorders and conducting groundbreaking research, but also for excellence in teaching their fellows and residents the intricate art and science of spinal surgery. 

“There are many spine books that focus on the disease being treated. This book, however, focuses on the operation and what a surgeon needs to do, step by step, once the decision has been made to perform a given operation,” says John Heller, MD, director of the Emory spine surgery fellowship. “The description of each step is then followed by an illustration, radiologic image or intraoperative photo that brings the words to life. 

According to Rhee, “We wanted to create a practical guidebook to performing both common and highly complex spine surgeries, and also to share the technical nuances that we impart to our fellows but are not usually included in journals or textbooks.  My hope is that this will be the go-to book for anyone wanting technical details on performing spine surgery, from orthopaedic and neurosurgical spine fellows and residents to practicing spine surgeons.”

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