Can you describe your most memorable clinical case(s)?
As a chief resident, I took care of a young man who suffered a fracture to the cervical spine, an incomplete spinal cord injury and facet dislocation after diving into a lake. Through awake cervical traction, we were able to reduce the fracture and he walked out of the hospital. Just as memorable, but in sharp contrast with regard to outcome, would be my experience as a first responder at ground zero at the World Trade Center during 9/11. I responded with several of the orthopaedic residents from NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and slept in the hospital for several days. We operated on a patient who suffered an incomplete thoracic cord injury in addition to multiple other injuries. Despite our best efforts, our patient died of multisystem organ failure several weeks later. More recently, while the results may be somewhat less dramatic, I take a great deal of personal satisfaction when patients return to the office following surgery pleased with their ability to resume their normal activities and enjoy their life and time with their families with improved function and diminished pain.
How do you see treatment of the spine developing in the future?
Spine treatment will need to focus on modalities that have been proven effective. I would hope that we continue to develop and prove the efficacy of both minimally invasive surgery and motion preservation. While the promise of minimally invasive surgery is quite compelling, we need to prove that the results are maximally effective. Progress in our understanding of biologics will also be key to future advances in spinal interventions and treatment. In addition to the clinical efficacy of these treatments, we will also be required to show society that they are economically viable.
What are your current areas of research?
My research continues to focus on motion preservation and artificial disc replacement of both the cervical and lumbar spine. As we collect longer term data on motion preservation, we will be able to prove or disprove our assumptions regarding the long-term benefits of motion preservation as it is related to adjacent segment disease. I continue to be involved in the research and development of spinal implants.
What is the most interesting paper you have come across recently?
It is difficult to choose one paper. We have recently published our experience with two level lumbar artificial lumbar disc replacements in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS-A) and also presented our five-year experience with cervical artificial disc replacement.
Outside of medicine, what are your interests?
My wonderful wife Julie and I have two beautiful young children Lex (two and a half) and Carly (four and a half). I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my family—they keep me grounded and continually keep me focused on the “big picture”. My kids are some of the funniest people I know. My wife and I enjoy cooking and fine wine. I also like music (classic rock and country western in the operating room!), photography, and travel.
2010–present Clinical professor of Orthopaedic Surgery; director of Spine Service-Education; associate director of Spine Fellowship, NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases
2003–present Honorary police surgeon, New York Police Department
1996 Fellow, reconstructive surgery of the spine, Maryland Spine Centre, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
1990 MD, SUNY Downstate Brooklyn, New York, USA (received the Summa Cum Laude, Distinction in Research)
1985 BA, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, USA
2011 Society of Lateral Access Surgeons
2010 Chairman Membership Committee, International Society for Advancement of Spine Surgery
2010 American Orthopaedic Association
2008 Lumbar Spine Research Society
2004 Scoliosis Research Society
2001 International Society for Study of the Lumbar Spine
2000 Fellow, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
1998 Fellow, American College of Surgeons
1998 Cervical Spine Research Society
1997 North American Spine Society
1981 American Mensa Society
Awards and Honours (selected)
2010–present Best Doctors in New York, New York Magazine
2010–present America’s Most Compassionate Doctors
2010–present America’s Top Doctors
2010–present America’s Top Orthopedists
2008–present Patient’s Choice Award
2002–present Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare
2002–present Who’s Who in Science and Engineering