Disc replacement, AI and more: The research exciting 4 spine surgeons


Spine surgeons in 2023 have been exploring ways to innovate and learn through a variety of research. Here's what four surgeons are working on:

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. Becker's invites all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: What's your proudest moment in 2023?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at cbehm@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: Have you been involved in any interesting research lately? What are your findings?

Brian Fiani, DO. Mendelson Kornblum Orthopedic & Spine Specialists (West Bloomfield, Mich.): Neurocryostimulation is an interesting research topic of mine lately. The specific research is with its application as a technique being studied for its potential in treating spine injuries. My recent research has focused on understanding the effects of extreme cold temperatures on spinal tissues and nerves. This therapy involves applying freezing temperatures to the affected areas, which has been found to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and promote tissue healing. Preliminary studies have shown promising results, with patients experiencing improved mobility and decreased symptoms. However, further research is needed to determine the long-term effectiveness and safety of neurocryostimulation. This innovative approach holds great promise for enhancing the treatment options available for individuals suffering from spine injuries. 

Ali Mesiwala, MD. DISC Sports & Spine Center (Newport Beach, Calif.): In spine surgery, we are continuously being presented with newer updated implants, technologies and techniques. Research is how we are able to demonstrate clinical and economic efficacy of those technologies. I have routinely participated in multicenter trials along with independent retrospective analysis and data collection; these have helped us understand trends in our patients' perioperative outcomes. 

Most recently, we at DISC Sports & Spine Center were selected as a site for the Orthofix two-level M6-C artificial cervical disc IDE study. The artificial disc that we are evaluating for a two-level indication has already demonstrated effective and successful outcomes for our patients postoperatively in single-level use. Multicenter, FDA-regulated studies allow for us to participate and collaborate in the development and evolution of treatment modalities and policies. While this is an ongoing study, artificial disc replacement technology has made great leaps and bounds within the last decade thanks to ongoing research efforts both nationally and internationally. We are anticipating great outcomes with this study.

Grant Shifflett, MD. DISC Sports & Spine Center: We are excited to recently secure our position as a study site for the Orthofix two-level M6-C artificial cervical disc study. We have had excellent clinical outcomes with the M6-C disc for one-level indications and are excited to study this device for two-level indications and hopefully make this unique technology accessible to a larger cohort of patients. As we gain greater understanding of the benefits of disc arthroplasty over traditional cervical fusions, we need to continually evaluate the devices at our disposal and ensure that we are selecting the right implants for the right patients. Our partnership in this study will only enhance the body of data available on disc arthroplasty and will enable surgeons' scientific backing for making the right clinical decision for each patient.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. St. Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): Our current research is investigating AI application to immediate diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease/stroke with information-directed therapies and intraoperative use of computer anatomic simulation for complex spinal issues. More information to come.

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