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11 Best Spine Surgeons in 2021: For Patients with Back Pain

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Dr. Deuk
An expert in all things spine, Dr. Deukmedjain is a board certified neurosurgeon who has performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries and procedures including the revolutionary Deuk Laser Disc Repair and the Deuk Spinal Fusion. 

If you’re considering back or neck surgery and finding the best spine surgeons feels like a daunting task, you’re not alone.

After all, you’re putting your health and wellbeing in the hands of the doctor you choose to perform your surgery - it’s natural to be anxious and want to feel secure in your decision.

To help you find the best spine surgeon for you and your procedure, in this article, we’re covering what you should consider when choosing a spinal surgeon and 11 of the best spine surgeons in the country.

What to Consider When Selecting a Spine Surgeon

Here are some of the things you should consider when selecting a spine surgeon:

Are They Board-Certified?

Not all surgeons are board-certified, and it doesn't necessarily mean you should not consider them. However, board certification by the American Board of Surgery (ABS) demonstrates a commitment to their area of expertise and a lifelong commitment to learning.

If a surgeon is board-certified, you know they have completed at least five years of residency training, as well as meeting all of the ABS training requirements. It also signals that they've completed the ABS examination process, which is very rigorous and intensive.

It's important to know that board certification is not a legal requirement. Having a current medical license is the minimum legal requirement to be a practicing surgeon. Being board certified by the ABS is voluntary and demonstrates a higher standard of excellence.

How Experienced and Qualified Are They?

While many newly qualified surgeons are perfectly capable of carrying out complex spine surgeries, you may feel more comfortable choosing an experienced surgeon.

Surgeons typically make their experience, qualifications, and professional accreditations publicly available for this reason.

Surgeons also undergo three additional training phases after they complete their medical training. First, they complete an Internship, Residency, then a Fellowship. You will be able to see where they completed these phases and how long ago.

Most surgeons will also give you a ballpark figure as to how many surgeries are performed. As well as detailing what their areas of expertise are. You should always ask about the surgeon's success rate and complications.

Do They Specialize In Your Specific Surgery?

Spinal surgery covers a wide range of procedures. For example, it can range from treating herniated discs and performing spinal fusions to treating a wide range of diseases and deformities. Some spine surgeons specialize in treating trauma to the spine while others focus only on pediatric spine conditions. 

To increase the chance of having the best possible care and narrow down your search, look for surgeons specializing in the specific type of procedure you're needing. For example, as an adult with a painful disc herniation you will want a surgeon that specializes in treating herniated and bulging discs with advanced outpatient, endoscopic procedures rather than invasive procedures.

The first consideration is often narrowing down if you need an orthopedic or neurosurgeon. For most types of back surgery, either may be considered. But for some specific types of surgery, you will need to seek the expertise of the relevant surgeon.

Have a Consultation Before Making a Decision

Having surgery, especially something as serious as spine surgery, is a very personal experience. Be as informed about the recommended treatment as you can by reviewing articles like these and viewing patient testimonials.

If the surgeon isn't willing to have a consultation with you beforehand, this is a red flag. A surgeon who really cares about a patient will want to carefully examine them beforehand, without you even having to ask. Unfortunately, some surgeons don’t spend enough time on performing the physical exam to identify the actual anatomical source of back pain or neck pain prior to treatment and this can lead to suboptimal results. Many doctors rely heavily on MRI scans as the main test to formulate their treatment recommendation; however, MRI scans don’t tell doctors where the pain is coming from but can only offer structural “suggestions” about the cause of the patient’s pain. Pain is not a structural phenomenon but it is actually a physiological problem with inflammation at the heart of all spine pain. The best surgeons combine a thorough patient history of the pain with a focused exam of the patient’s pain source and appropriate medical imaging to come to the right conclusion for treatment based on the specific cause(s) of back or neck pain.

Even though you will likely not be awake during the procedure, it's important that you trust the surgeon and the surgical team that will be performing the surgery. A good anesthesiologist and nurse are essential to a successful surgical experience. 

Look For Independent Reviews

One of the best ways to know - without bias - how good of a service a surgeon provides is to look for patient reviews in the form of testimonials. An example of a patient testimonial can be found here.

To do this, don't just look on the medical institute’s website, as they're going to provide their most positive reviews and testimonials there.

Instead, do your own due diligence online. Start by Googling the surgeon’s name or the institute where they practice and see what you can find out.

You don't have to be put off by the odd negative review. It's always possible that someone has a bad experience, which doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of service you will receive. Sometimes a competitor will post a bad review and these should be ignored.

Take into account all of the reviews and feedback you can find. You can even query certain things that you are seeing being said when you have your consultation if you want further clarification.

How Invasive Is the Procedure?

Some surgeons are more skilled than others when it comes to performing minimally invasive procedures.

The less invasive a procedure is, the less pain you should experience afterwards, and the shorter your stay in the hospital should be. Moreover, with minimally invasive techniques, there is a lower risk of complications and a significantly faster recovery rate with less need for addicting opioids after surgery to deal with pain. Endoscopic spine surgeries like the Deuk Laser Disc Repair are performed outside the hospital in the safety of an outpatient surgery center and there is no need for opioid painkillers.

If a surgeon is suggesting metal implants whether they are metal screws or an artificial disc, it’s prudent to seek a second opinion. Some institutes are known to suggest metal implants as it’s a far more expensive option and their payment is higher. However, this is an invasive procedure with a long recovery. It is estimated that over 90% of spinal fusions being done today can be performed instead as endoscopic Deuk Laser Disc Repair.

With all of this in mind, below is a list of 11 of the best spine surgeons for you to look through. We've listed where they are located, some of their history and qualifications, and some of the surgery types they specialize in.

11 Best Spine Surgeons

Dr. Ara Deukmedjian

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Location:

Deuk Spine Institute, Viera: 7955 Spyglass Hill Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940,

Deuk Spine Institute, Titusville: 494 N Washington Ave Titusville, FL 32796

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Ara Deukmedjian, or just Dr. Deuk as he’s known to his patients and colleagues, grew up in Southern California and now practices at the Deuk Spine Institute in Florida.

A renowned neuro-spine surgeon and a true pioneer in the field of minimally invasive, laser, and endoscopic back and neck pain treatment, Dr. Deuk developed his own revolutionary laser procedure called Deuk Laser Disc Repair.

Deuk Laser Disc Repair is a minimally invasive spinal surgery that is a modern alternative to spinal fusion surgery and artificial discs. It has a higher success rate than traditional spinal surgery at 95%, with fewer complications, a quicker recovery period, and does not weaken the spine.

Dr. Deuk has performed over 2,000 cervical decompressive discectomies, treated over 1,000 herniated or degenerated lumbar discs, and performed more than 1,300 laser spine surgeries to date with no complications. In the 16 year history of performing the minimally invasive endoscopic Deuk Laser Disc Repair patients average 95% elimination of their preoperative back or neck pain, higher than any other surgery available today and the results last a lifetime. This incredible surgery is available to anyone with back or neck pain coming from a herniated or bulging disc.

He’s a member of; The Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), Brevard County Medical Society (President, Board of Governors), and Surgery Department Chair, Parrish Medical Center, and has also been awarded the ‘Patients Choice Award’ for consecutive years.

Surgery types:

  • Deuk Laser Disc Repair
  • Laminectomy / Foraminotomy
  • Artificial discs
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Spinal degenerative deformity correction

Link to learn more: https://deukspine.com/ 

Dr. Ehud Mendel

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Location:

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: Columbus, OH 43210

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Ehud Mendel, MD is the director of the Spine Oncology Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and is a clinical director of The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute.

Dr. Mendel has pioneered a new surgical technique that reconstructs the spine after a patient has had surgery to remove bone tumors. He has also developed numerous spine tumor research protocols and spine surgery techniques.

Surgery types:

  • Spinal Cancers
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi
  • Meningioma
  • Spine Sarcoma
  • Bone Cancer
  • Spinal Cord Tumors
  • Osteosarcoma

Link to learn more: https://cancer.osu.edu/ehud-mendel

Dr. Khalid M. Abbed

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Location:

Hartford HealthCare Medical Group: One State Street, Suite 19, Hartford, CT 06103

About the surgeon: 

Khalid M. Abbed, MD, is a neurosurgeon and spine care specialist, co-physician-in-chief, and the director of spine tumor surgery at Hartford HealthCare.

He earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Going on to complete his residency at Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and then completing a fellowship in neurosurgical and orthopedic spine surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Abbed is skilled in minimally invasive treatments of the spine and has been working with other healthcare leaders to develop new, less invasive procedures and more intelligent medical technologies.

Surgery types:

  • Cervical Spine Surgery
  • Globus ExcelsiusGPS
  • Lumbar Spine Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Robotic Spinal Surgery
  • Spinal Tumors
  • Thoracic Spine Surgery

Link to learn more:

Dr. Afshin Aminian

best-spine-surgeons-dr-afshin-aminian

Location:

Children's Hospital of Orange County: 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA 92868

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Afshin Aminian is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the medical director of the Orthopaedic Institute at the Children's Hospital of Orange County.

He earned his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. Going on to complete his general surgery internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and completed his fellowship at San Diego Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Aminian is heavily involved in progressive research examining innovative ways to surgically correct spinal deformities and outcomes for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Surgery types:

  • Spine surgeries
  • Spinal deformities
  • Teen idiopathic scoliosis

Link to learn more:

Dr. Christopher P. Ames

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Location:

University of California San Francisco Health: 

About the surgeon: Dr. Christopher Ames is a neurosurgeon specializing in spine tumors. He is the director at UCSF's neurosurgical spinal deformity service, where more than 200 procedures are performed each year to help patients with scoliosis, kyphosis, flatback syndrome, and chin-on-chest deformity in ankylosing spondylitis.

Dr. Ames earned his medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, going on to complete his residency in neurological surgery at the University of California in San Diego, before completing his fellowship at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

He has also published articles in more than 400 peer-review publications, is an internationally honored lecturer, has presented to various Spine Society meetings around the world, and has served as chairman for various national and international courses.

Surgery types:

Spinal tumors, such as:

  • Chordoma
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Giant cell tumor
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Sacral tumors

Link to learn more:

Dr. Alvin H. Crawford

best-spine-surgeons-dr-alvin-crawford

Location:

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine: Suite E-870 3230 Eden Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45267

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Crawford is a professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and is the co-director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

After earning his medical degree at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Dr. Crawford completed his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, before completing fellowships at New England Baptist Hospital, Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the Alfred I DuPont Institute.

Dr. Crawford is board-certified at the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, has a clinical interest in orthopaedic surgery, and has numerous articles published in peer-reviewed publications.

Surgery types:

  • Pediatric Orthopaedics
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Disorders

Link to learn more:

Dr. Lawrence Borges

best-spine-surgeons-dr-lawrence-borges

Location:

Massachusetts General Hospital: 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Lawrence Borges is the surgical director of the Spine Tumor Clinic and the director of the Neurosurgical Spine Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Borges earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He has an interest in spinal tumors and Arnold-Chiari and has numerous articles published in professional and peer-reviewed medical publications.

Surgery types:

  • Disc excision
  • Laminectomy
  • Fusions
  • Spinal cord tumors
  • Chiari malformation

Link to learn more:

Dr. John B. Emans

best-spine-surgeons-dr-john-emans

Location:

Boston Children’s Hospital: 300 Longwood Avenue, Fegan, 2nd Floor Boston, Massachusetts 02115

About the surgeon: 

Dr. John B. Emans is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, General Orthopaedics and currently serves as the director of the division of spine surgery at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Emans specializes in procedures that include expansion thoracostomy, early-onset scoliosis, and mono-segmental reduction and fusion for severe spondylolisthesis.

After earning his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Emans completed his residency at Peter Bent Brigham, Boston, and completed the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program.

Surgery types:

  • Congenital Scoliosis
  • Idiopathic Scoliosis
  • Kyphosis in Children
  • Scoliosis

Link to learn more:

Dr. Thomas C Chen

best-spine-surgeons-dr-thomas-chen

Location:

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital: 1520 San Pablo Street, HCT-3800 Los Angeles, CA 90033-5313

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Thomas C Chen is an assistant professor of neurological surgery and pathology at USC Keck School of Medicine and is the co-director of the USC/Norris Neuro-Oncology Program.

Dr. Chen is one of the few fellowship-trained spine surgeons focused on spine cancer. He also pioneers the use of innovative treatments for brain and spine tumors and has research interests in these areas.

He earned his medical degree at the University of California in San Francisco. Dr. Chen completed his neurosurgical residency at USC and completed a spine fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Surgery types:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine Surgery

Link to learn more:

Dr. Brian P. Hasley

best-spine-surgeons-dr-brian-hasley

Location:

Children's Hospital & Medical Center Omaha: Dodge St. Omaha, NE 68114

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Brian Hasley specializes in caring for patients with pediatric orthopedic conditions and his area of focus is pediatric and neuromuscular spinal deformity.

He’s a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and is a member of the Scoliosis Research Society and the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America.

Dr. Hasley earned his medical degree at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Nebraska-Creighton University Health Foundation Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation and completed his fellowship at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center.

Surgery types:

  • Orthopedic Surgery

Link to learn more:

Dr. Isador Lieberman, MD

best-spine-surgeons-dr-isador-lieberman

Location:

Texas Health Resources: 6020 W. Parker Road, Suite 200, Plano, Texas 75034

About the surgeon: 

Dr. Isador Lieberman is a board-certified orthopaedic and spinal surgeon currently serving as the medical director of the Scoliosis & Spine Tumor Program at Texas Health Resources Hospital in Plano and a member of Texas Back Institute.

He specializes in the treatment of spinal disorders and his clinical interests include treatment of vertebral compression fractures, minimally invasive/robotic/endoscopic spinal surgery, adolescent and adult scoliosis, deformity reconstruction, spinal tumors, cervical and lumbar degenerative disorders, and trauma.

Dr. Lieberman earned his medical degree at the University of Toronto in Canada. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at The Toronto Hospital and has completed fellowships at The Toronto Hospital and Queen's Medical Center in the United Kingdom

Surgery types:

  • Spinal Surgery
  • Spine Tumors
  • Scoliosis

Link to learn more:

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World leader in Laser Spine Surgery
With world-class physicians on staff, the newest and most advanced technology, and a patient experience pathway that is unrivaled in it’s efficiency and and pedagogy of care, Deuk Spine Institute has performed thousands of procedures and achieves a 95% success rate in elimination of pain.

 The services we offer are not offered anywhere else in the world, and the treatments are curative, not palliative.  On top of that, Dr. Deukmedjian is personally invested in the well-being of each and every patient, and has spared no expense to guarantee the best possible outcomes.
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