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Spine and Spinal Cord

Spine surgeons at Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Spine Center treat a wide range of spine injuries and disorders, both surgically and non-surgically. Our spine surgery team includes neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who are able to coordinate with other specialties such as oncology, radiology, internal medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation, to fully address the impact a spinal injury or disorder can have on a patient’s quality of life.

Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Spine Center receives patient referrals from around the world for spinal cord treatment and is one of the largest clinical spine care practices in the United States. Our clinical care and research is among the most advanced available.

Understanding Spinal Injuries and Disorders

Spinal injuries and disorders can be major life-changing events. Whether caused by trauma, infection, degenerative disorder, or tumors, a spine or spinal cord condition can result in a drastic change in the lives of patients and their families.

Spinal cord damage can result in a loss of feeling or movement (paralysis). The spinal cord is a major bundle of nerves that carries electrical signals between the brain and body. When spinal cord damage happens, those signals get blocked or are not transmitted correctly. The resulting loss of feeling or paralysis is often permanent, although new therapies and rehabilitation techniques are showing promise.

Our spine specialists commonly treat conditions that include:

Treatment of Spinal Injuries and Disorders

The treatment of spinal injuries and disorders has long been an integral part of the Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Spine Center. Our spine specialists treat the entire spectrum of disorders of the spine and spinal cord--from the routine to the highly complex. The specialists at the spine center have expertise in the treatment of craniocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral disorders.

Spine specialists use both surgical and non-surgical treatments to help patients relieve back pain and regain function. Using proven medication, physical therapy and surgical treatments, clinicians are able to treat many spine problems with conservative or minimally invasive procedures.

When more conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or medication, does not provide optimal relief, our orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons work closely together, each bringing a unique perspective to patient cases. As a result, spine treatment is based on the patient’s specific disorder, not on the expertise of the physician who first examines the patient.

When spine surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons offer the most up-to-date, minimally-invasive techniques to provide the best possible spine care. Our spine surgeons specialize in specific types of disorders as well as specific locations within the spine, such as the cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas. Orthopedic surgeons are the primary specialists for complex thoracolumbar deformities such as scoliosis, kyphosis and high-grade spondylolisthesis, while disorders of the spinal cord and surrounding membrane (intradural) are treated exclusively by neurosurgery. Given this unique specialization, Spine Center patients have access to some of the highest levels of clinical spine care available in the U.S.

Patients are followed through their entire treatment, from the detailed initial evaluation to the rehabilitation process. Our main goal is to encourage recovery of the nerves, increase the level of independence in daily living, and help patients return to a full and active life.

Ongoing Spine Treatment Discoveries

Our clinicians also are making significant contributions to the advancement of spinal surgery through the development of new techniques, involvement in clinical studies and publishing groundbreaking material on spinal disorders. Spine Center physicians have published more scientific peer-reviewed articles about research or treatment for spinal conditions than nearly all other centers—in fact, no other orthopedic spine centers come close!

Translaminar fixation, a surgical technique of the upper cervical spine, was developed by one of the faculty. This technique greatly reduces the operative risks during treatment of instability of the atlantoaxial (C1-2) junction.

The spine care team actively participates in clinical studies on new and emerging technologies, including the FDA-approved multi-center trial on the Cervicore artificial disc.

For a referral to a Washington University orthopedic spine surgeon or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

2023 Best Hospitals - Neurology and Neurosurgery

#17 in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 866.867.3627
General Information: 314.747.3000
One Barnes-Jewish Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63110
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