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Alexander P. Hughes, MD

Spine Surgery
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About Dr. Hughes

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Dr. Alex Hughes is a spinal surgeon at HSS and Associate Professor in Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical School. Dr. Hughes has a background in biomedical engineering and approaches each patient and symptom as unique challenges that require custom approaches. He specializes in degenerative, deformity, and trauma-related diseases of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral spine. Dr. Hughes employs innovative, less invasive approaches to the spine whenever possible and indicated. He believes that one of the most critical factors in spine surgery is “getting it right the first time” for maximum benefit and outcomes. However, in cases of complex revision surgery, newer innovative techniques and approaches now allow for more effective treatment.

Dr. Hughes studied biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University where he graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society (awarded to the top 5-10% of engineering students). While there, he spent a year working on device development and research at the W.M. Keck Free Electron Laser Center exploring laser applications in orthopedic and spinal surgery. Dr. Hughes completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at the UCLA School of Medicine and a spinal surgery fellowship at HSS Weill Cornell. Dr. Hughes has spent much time working with international thought leaders in spine surgery abroad and is an active collaborator in national and international education and research.

Dr. Hughes believes that being actively involved in research and critical thinking in spine surgery, as well as working in a collaborative environment, is the key to delivering the highest level of innovative care to each patient. To that end, he is involved in a number of research studies and he founded and is the Director of the International Fellowship in Spine Surgery and Research at HSS. His areas of spine related research include increasing the safety of anterior approaches to the cervical spine in complex cases, minimally invasive lateral approaches to the spine, connective tissue disease, and disc biology. He has been part of two different teams that have won annual “best research paper” awards in international peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Hughes regularly publishes and presents scientific papers in international peer reviewed journals and symposia. Dr. Hughes founded the Multi-disciplinary Educational Conference at HSS. This regular conference brings together specialists in diverse spine related backgrounds (e.g. neurology, rheumatology, medicine, physiatry, anesthesia, and pain management) to discuss challenging cases and arrive at the best possible care for the individual patient. 

Dr. Hughes’ office is conveniently located in the HSS East River Professional Building Manhattan at 523 East 72nd Street.

For more information, visit www.spinecareofny.com

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Departments

Special Expertise

Dr. Hughes believes in enhancing patient experience and outcomes through innovation and clinical research. He has a special interest in 3-D mechanics of the aging spine as well as in complex cervical spine. He believes that innovative, less invasive approaches to the spine, new biologic healing agents, and better understanding and treatment of connective tissue deficiencies (including bone) are revolutionizing the way we treat diseases of the spine. 

Conditions and Disorders
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Back Pain
Balance Issues
Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical Arthritis (Spondylosis)
Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck)
Compression Fractures
Degenerative Disc Disease
Facet Arthropathy
Fractures of the Spine
Herniated Disc (Ruptured or Slipped Disc)
Instability
Kyphosis
Lower Back Pain
Myelopathy
Neck Sprain
Sciatica
Scoliosis
Spinal Stenosis
Spondylitis / Spondyloarthritis / Spondyloarthropathy
Spondylolysis / Spondylolisthesis
Whiplash

Procedures

Biologic Intervention
Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP)
Decompression Surgery (cervical and lumbar laminectomy, micro-laminotomy, micro-foraminotomy)
Deformity Correction
Disc Replacement
Dynamic Stabilization
Endoscopic Spine Fusion
Lateral Access Spine Surgery
Microsurgical Discectomy
Microsurgical Decompression
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Spinal Fusion (cervical, thoracic, lumbar)

Patient Stories

Videos

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Insurance

If your insurance is not listed, please call our office if you have questions regarding your insurance coverage. If you have out-of-network benefits, then your insurance may reimburse you for a portion of your office visit. We will work with you and your insurance to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Financial assistance may be available for patients in need.

Credentials

Appointments

Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College
Associate Scientist, Research Division, Hospital for Special Surgery
Director, International Fellowship in Spine Surgery and Research, Hospital for Special Surgery
Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Awards

Spine Across the Sea Best Poster Presentation -July 2012
North American Spine Society Outstanding Paper Award for Surgical Science - May 2013
Cervical Spine Research Society – European Section Best Poster Award -May 2013
European Society of Anesthesiology Best Abstract Award - June 2013
The Spine Journal & NASS Outstanding Paper Award for Surgical Science -October 2013
North American Spine Society Best Papers: Measurement of Surgical Outcomes - October 2015
North American Spine Society Value Award Nominations - November 2015
Global Spine Congress Best Papers Finalist - May 2017
Lumbar Spine Research Society Best Paper Award - April 2018
HSS Surgeon-in-Chief Research Grant Award - July 2020
 

Education

BE (bachelor of engineering, biomedical engineering), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 1999
MD, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 2003

Internship

General Surgery, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 2004

Residency

Orthopaedic Surgery, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 2008

Fellowship

Spinal Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, 2009

State Licensure

Languages

English

For My Patients

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Video

Spine Care Institute at Hospital for Special Surgery

Publications by Dr. Hughes

Selected Journal Articles

Selected Books/Chapters

Lebl DR, Girardi FP, Hughes A, Cammisa FP.  “Chapter 28: Lumbar Disc Arthroplasty” Master Techniques in Orthopedic Surgery – The Spine, 3rd Edition. Edited by Thomas Zdeblick & Todd Albert. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014.

Holly LT, Hughes A. Chapter 14:  Bone Biology and Lumbar Fusion Surgical Management of Low Back Pain, 2nd Edition. Daniel K Resnick; Regis W Haid; Jeffrey C Wang. New York: Thieme. Rolling Meadows, Ill.: American Association of Neurosurgeons; 2009.

Selected Presentations

“The association of Spinal Lean Muscle Volume on Lumbar Spine MRI and Regional Volumetric Bone Mineral Density Measured by Quantitative Computed Tomography”. Chiapparelli E, Okano I, Adl Amini D, Zhu J, Salzmann S, Sax O, Tan ET, Oezel L, Shue J, Carrino JA, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP,  Sama AA, Hughes AP. North American Spine Society. Boston, Massachusetts, September 2021

“Preoperative MRI-based Vertebral Bone Quality (VBQ) Score Assessment in Patients undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion”. Salzmann SN, Okano I, Jones C, Zhu J, Lu S, Onyekwere I, Balaji V, Reisener M, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Carrino JA, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP. North American Spine Society. Boston, Massachusetts, September 2021

“The Association of Transversus Abdominis Plane Block with Length of Stay, Pain and Opioid Consumption After Anterior or Lateral Lumbar Fusion: A Retrospective Study”. Reisener M, Hughes AP, Okano I, Zhu J, Lu S, Salzmann SN, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Soffin EM. North American Spine Society. Boston, Massachusetts, September 2021

“Comparison of Opioid Use in Multilevel Lumbar Spinal Fusion Patients Before and After Implementation of an Institutional Opioid Minimizing Program”. Reisener M, Hughes AP, Okano I, Zhu J, Arzani A, Kostas J, Salzmann SN, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Soffin EM. North American Spine Society. Boston, Massachusetts, September 2021

“Evaluation of Cage Subsidence in Standalone Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Novel 3D-printed Titanium versus Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) Cage”. Adl Amini D, Oezel L, Okano I, Zhu J, Chiapparelli E, Jones C, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. North American Spine Society. Boston, Massachusetts, September 2021

“Preoperative MRI-based Vertebral Bone Quality (VBQ) Score Assessment in Patients Undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion”. Stephan N Salzmann, Ichiro Okano, Conor Jones, Jiaqi Zhu, Shuting Lu, Onyekwere I, Balaji V, Reisener MJ, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Carrino JA, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP. ISSLS Virtual Annual Meeting, June 2021

“Endplate Volumetric Bone Mineral Density Is a Predictor for Cage Subsidence Following Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Risk Factor Analysis”. Jones C, Okano I, Salzmann S, Chiapparelli E, Reisener MJ, Shue J, Sama A, Cammisa F, Girardi F, Hughes AP. ISSLS Virtual Annual Meeting, June 2021

“Comparison of Opioid Use in Multilevel Lumbar Spinal Fusion Patients Before and After Implementation of an Institutional Opioid Minimizing Program”. Reisener MJ, Hughes AP, Okano I, Zhu J, Arzani A, Costas J, Salzmann SN, Shue J, Sama AA, Girardi FP, Soffin EM. ISSLS Virtual Annual Meeting, June 2021

“Thoracic Bone Mineral Density Measured by Quantitative Computed Tomography in Patients Undergoing Spine Surgery”. Salzmann SN, Okano I, Jones C, Basile E, Iuso A, Zhu J, Reisener MJ, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Carrino JA Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP. ISSLS Virtual Annual Meeting, June 2021

“A Comprehensive MRI Analysis of Paraspinal and Psoas Muscle Size, Lean Muscle, and Fatty Infiltration in Patients undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion”  . Salzmann SN, Okano I, Tan ET, Sax OC, Chiapparelli E, Reisener MJ, Shue J, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Sneag DB, Hughes AP. ISSLS Virtual Annual Meeting, June 2021

“Endplate Volumetric Bone Mineral Density Is a Predictor for Cage Subsidence following Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Risk Factor Analysis”. Jones C, Okano I, Salzmann SN, Chiapparelli E, Reisener M, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. Global Spine Congress. Paris, France, May 2021

“Preoperative MRI-based Vertebral Bone Quality (VBQ) Score Assessment in Patients undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion". Salzmann SN, Okano I, Jones C, Zhu J, Lu S, Onyekwere I, Balaji V, Reisener M, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Carrino JA, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP. Global Spine Congress. Paris, France, May 2021

“Thoracic Bone Mineral Density Measured by Quantitative Computed Tomography in Patients undergoing Spine Surgery”. Salzmann SN, Okano I, Jones C, Basile E, Iuso A, Zhu J, Reisener M, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Carrino JA, Girardi FP, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP. Global Spine Congress. Paris, France, May 2021

“Endplate Volumetric Bone Mineral Density Is a Predictor for Cage Subsidence following Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Risk Factor Analysis”. Jones C, Okano I, Salzmann SN, Chiapparelli E, Reisener M, Shue J, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. LSRS Virtual Annual Meeting, April 2021  

“Workers’ Compensation Status May Negatively Impact Post-Operative Dysphagia and Dysphonia Following Anterior Cervical Fusion”. Reisener M, Okano I, Zhu J, Salzmann SN, Ortiz Miller C, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. Cervical Spine Research Society. Las Vegas, Nevada. December 2020

“Cost-effectiveness Analysis of Teriparatide Therapy for the Prevention of Proximal Junctional Kyphosis/Failure and Subsequent Revision after Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery”. Okano I, Yang J, Salzmann SN, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. Lumbar Spine Research Society (LSRS) Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, November 2020

“Fostering Physical Activity after Complex Lumbar Spine Surgery: Long-term Results of a Randomized Trial”. Mancuso CA, Rigaud MC, Duculan R, Cammisa FP, Sama AA, Hughes AP, Girardi FP. EuroSpine. Vienna, Austria, October 2020

“Hyoid Position as a Predictive Marker for Postoperative Dysphagia and Dysphonia after Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion”. Hoshino Y, Okano I, Salzmann S, Chiapparelli E, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. EuroSpine. Vienna, Austria, October 2020

“Risk Factors for Postoperative Dysphagia and Dysphonia following Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion: A Comprehensive Study Utilizing the Hospital for Special Surgery Dysphagia and Dysphonia Inventory (HSS-DDI)”. Okano I, Ortiz Miller C, Salzmann SN, Chiapparelli E, Hoshino Y, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. EuroSpine. Vienna, Austria, October 2020

“Does Lumbar Spine Pathology Affect Bone Mineral Density Measurement by Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)?” Salzmann S, Carlson BB, Shirahata T, Ortiz Miller C,  Carrino J,  Yang J,  Sama AA,  Cammisa Jr FP,  Girardi FP,  Hughes AP. Lumbar Spine Research Society (LSRS) Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2018

Research

Integrated Spine Research Program (ISRP)

Dr. Hughes is a member of the ISRP.  The ISRP combines experience from experts involved in both surgical and non surgical spine patient care along with PhD researchers with backgrounds in basic science and engineering. The mission of the ISRP is to progress technology from "Discovery to Recovery" thereby improving treatments and outcomes for patients.

Research Interests

Complex Cervical Spine Reconstruction
Connective Tissue Degradation
Minimally invasive approaches to complex spinal pathologies
Outcome Registries
Endplate diffusion
Nerve Deficits and Injury

Clinical Trials / Research Studies

Industry Relationships

Industry Relationships

HSS has a long history of supporting appropriate relationships with industry because they advance HSS's mission to provide the highest quality patient care, improve patient mobility, and enhance the quality of life for all, and to advance the science of orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, and their related disciplines through research and education.

Below are the healthcare industry relationships reported by Dr. Hughes as of May 27, 2024.

  • Expanding Innovations - Received Research Support
  • Joint Effort Administrative Services Organization - Ownership Interest
  • Kuros Biosciences B.V. - Received Research Support 
  • Kuros Biosurgery AG - Received Research Support
  • NuVasive, Inc. - Received Research Support
  • Tissue Connect Systems, Inc. - Ownership Interest

HSS and its physicians make this information available to patients and the public, thus creating a transparent environment for those who are interested in this information. Further, the HSS Conflicts of Interest and Commitment Policy prohibits physicians from collecting royalties on products they develop that are used on patients at HSS.

Patients should feel free to ask their HSS physicians questions about these relationships.

Dr. Hughes in the News