Spring 2018 Highlights From The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York

Jul. 5, 2018

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Spring put extra pep in our step. Between raising awareness about rare diseases and refining surgical techniques for children, there wasn’t a dull moment at The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York. Enjoy our highlights from the season:

  1. When It Comes to Cervical Spine Surgery, Kids Get Special Treatment

Kids are not just small adults. Their bodies grow and change rapidly, so when a child has a spine problem that requires surgery, special treatment is critical to preserve normal growth.

With that in mind, neurosurgeons Dr. Richard C.E. Anderson and Dr. Peter D. Angevine collaborated with their colleagues in Columbia’s Department of Orthopedics to tailor an approach to kids. Together, they devised a surgical technique called temporary occipital fixation that allows for greater preservation of spinal growth in children who have problems affecting the upper (cervical) spine.

Drs. Anderson and Angevine and their colleagues described this new technique in a research article published in Neurosurgical Focus.

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2. Dr. McCormick Honored at Spine Summit

Surgeon. Researcher. Teacher. Leader. All words that describe Dr. Paul C. McCormick, Director of the Spine Hospital. He has contributed greatly to the field of neurosurgery, positively impacting colleagues and patients alike. His contributions include:

  • Holding leadership positions at several prominent neurosurgical and spine organizations
  • Publishing more than 200 scientific papers and book chapters
  • Being an invited speaker at more than 230 scientific meetings and an honored lecturer at 35 institutions throughout North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Dr. McCormick’s many contributions were recognized when he received the Meritorious Member Spine Award at Spine Summit 2018, an international meeting of neurosurgeons.

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3. Neurofibromatosis – What and How.  A Columbia University Medical Center Neurosurgeon’s Take

Neurofibromatosis is a rare disease that most people have never heard of. The disorder causes noncancerous tumors called neurofibromas and problems including pain, disfigurement and disability throughout a person’s life. To help spread the word, May 17 has been designated Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day.

In honor of this day, Dr. Christopher Mandigo, an expert in treating neurofibromas related to the spine, explains what neurofibromatosis is and how it causes symptoms. He also shares how neurofibromatosis is treated, when surgery is warranted and what the future holds for this rare disease.

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4. Approaching Scoliosis Surgery in Children with Myelomeningocele

When evidence is scarce, neurosurgeons face a difficult decision: Which surgical treatment is best? And because the conditions neurosurgeons treat tend to be rare, this can be a common concern.

This is a particular challenge for neurosurgeons when treating patients who simultaneously have both scoliosis (a curvature of the spinal column) and myelomeningocele (a condition in which the protective membrane and bones of the spinal column do not form properly).  

Scoliosis can occur in any child, but children with myelomeningocele have a high likelihood of developing scoliosis and may need surgery to correct the disorder. However, scoliosis surgery alone is complicated and becomes even more so when myelomeningocele is present. In addition, neurosurgeons sometimes disagree on one aspect of this surgery – discussed in our blog post linked below.

Neurosurgery resident Hannah Goldstein, M.D., and a group of researchers, led by Dr. Richard C.E. Anderson, set out to find an answer—and succeeded.

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5. Not All Spine Problems Need Major Surgery: Dr. Ogden Uses His Full Tool Kit to Find the Best and Least Invasive Spine Treatments

Spine surgery doesn’t have to be a major operation. Patients may be candidates for less invasive surgery called minimally invasive spine surgery. Just as it sounds, minimally invasive spine surgery is an operation that minimizes disruption to tissue and structures in the body. This means smaller incisions, faster recovery and less pain.

Dr. Alfred T. Ogden, who specializes in this type of surgery, has a full set of minimally invasive techniques in his tool kit and selects the best and least invasive option. Just as important, Dr. Ogden also knows when one of these “tools” will not do and instead, a conservative treatment, such as physical therapy, is what a patient needs.

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Learn more about our Spine Hospital neurosurgeons at their bio pages below:

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