International Experts in Cervical Spine Surgery Meet to Discuss Complex Issues

New York—May 30, 2013

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) will bring together some of the world’s experts in complex cervical spine surgery to address the challenges and successful outcomes for patients with unusual conditions. The symposium will take place Friday, May 31 at HSS in New York City.

Each year more than 200,000 cervical spine surgeries are performed in the United States to treat conditions ranging from spinal deformity to degenerative disc disease. Darren R. Lebl, MD, Spine Surgeon at HSS, co-director of the Complex Cervical Spine Symposium

"We are honored to welcome faculty from around the world to join our spine and scoliosis surgeons in sharing experiences with rare and highly specialized procedures on the cervical spine," said Darren R. Lebl, M.D., a cervical spine surgeon at HSS and co-director of the symposium. "HSS spine surgeons have much to share on cervical spine surgery, and we look forward to a stimulating intellectual exchange."

Such presentations and conversations are of particular importance due to the precision required in treating the cervical spine (vertebrae C1-C7) and the occipitocervical region (the articulation of the upper portion of the cervical spine with the base of the skull).

Matthew Cunningham, MD, PhD, Spine Surgeon at HSS, co-director of the Complex Cervical Spine SymposiumThe proximity to the top of the spinal cord demands a delicate approach, explained Matthew Cunningham, M.D., Ph.D., a spine surgeon at HSS and co-director of the symposium. Further complicating such surgery, some cervical spine disorders and injuries are so rare that they are seldom published in medical literature.

“The cervical spine is of particular concern,” said Dr. Cunningham. “Injuries and conditions that affect that area can be life-threatening or severely debilitating, affecting the ability to walk, feel or use fine motor skills.”

"Cervical spine surgery often requires a multidisciplinary team approach, and communication amongst practitioners is essential. Experienced spine surgeons have many techniques that are designed to restore normal physical activity and to maximize the patients' overall function," said Dr. Lebl.

Complex Cervical Spine Symposium attendees (neurosurgeons; orthopedic, pediatric orthopedic and spines surgeons; as well as residents, fellows and medical students) on site will benefit from the opportunity to acquire knowledge that may not necessarily be available elsewhere. Speakers will present on specialized topics in the field and share the latest treatments for these patients.

Session highlights include:

  • Advanced Cervical Spine Techniques
  • Cervical Spine Reconstruction
  • Pediatric Cervical Spine
  • Occipitocervical (or Craniovertebral) Junction
  • Controversies in Spine Surgery

Dr. Kuniyoshi Abumi, from Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Sapporo, Japan, will present the symposium’s keynote address. Dr. Abumi is also the inaugural president of the Cervical Spine Research Society - Asia Pacific Division.

Other guest faculty include:

  • Todd J. Albert, M.D.; The Rothman Institute, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia
  • Mark H. Bilsky, M.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City
  • John P. Dormans, M.D.; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Roger Härtl, M.D.; Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City
  • Daniel J. Hedequist, M.D.; Children’s Hospital Boston
  • Christoph J. Siepe, M.D., Ph.D.; Schön Klinik München Harlaching, Munich, Germany
  • Edward D. Simmons, M.D.; State University of New York at Buffalo

In addition to Drs. Lebl and Cunningham, HSS orthopedic spine surgeons participating include:


About Hospital for Special Surgery
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. HSS has locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.


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