Division of Spine Surgery

The Vanderbilt Division of Spine Surgery includes faculty with a wide range of expertise in all areas of spine surgery, including cervical, thoracic, and lumbar conditions. We offer a conservative approach that only employs surgery as a last resort when other options have failed. Our surgeons are trained in the latest surgical techniques, including motion-preserving surgery (cervical disc replacement and laminoplasty) and minimally invasive / endoscopic spine surgery. We believe in a collaborative approach to patient care and in training residents and fellows.

Clinical Areas of Expertise

  • Cervical spine conditions
  • Lumbar spine conditions
  • Degenerative spinal conditions
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery
  • Endoscopic spine surgery
  • Motion preserving spinal surgery (cervical disc arthroplasty, laminoplasty)
  • Spinal deformity (scoliosis)
  • Spine tumors (oncology)

Our Research

We’re home to the Vanderbilt Spine Registry, one of the longest running prospective spine outcomes registries in the U.S. This database provides the backbone for numerous and ongoing clinical outcome studies. We strive to improve and advance spinal treatment by:

  • Predicting outcomes following spine surgery
  • Advancing minimally invasive approaches to surgery
  • Creating evidence-based treatment protocols 
  • Developing cutting edge spine surgery instruments
  • Identifying the most appropriate non-surgical or surgical treatment for each spine condition  

 

    Current Research

    2022

    • Waddell WH, Weisenthal BM, Stephens BF, Golinvaux N, Henry AL, Pennings J, Wanner JP, Gupta R, Yoshii T, Feifei Z. Comparative Utilization of Laminoplasty in the United States and Japan. Spine Surgery and Related Research. January 2022.
    • Zheng B, Shaaya E, Feler J, Leary OP, Hagan MJ, Bajaj A, Fridley JS, Hassel F, Gardocki RJ, Grau RC, Lewandrowski KU, Telfeian AE. Endoscopic Techniques for Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Principles and Context. Biomed Res Int. 2022 Mar 19;2022:4979231. doi: 10.1155/2022/4979231. PMID: 35345525; PMCID: PMC8957448.
    • Zheng B, Shaaya E, Feler J, Leary OP, Hagan MJ, Bajaj A, Fridley JS, Hassel F, Gardocki RJ, Grau RC, Lewandrowski KU, Telfeian AE. Endoscopic Techniques for Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Principles and Context. Biomed Res Int. 2022 Mar 19;2022:4979231. doi: 10.1155/2022/4979231. PMID: 35345525; PMCID: PMC8957448.
    • Carlile CR, Rees AB, Schultz DJ, Stieinle AM, Nian H, Smith MD, Guillamondegui O, Archer KR, Penning JS, Zuckerman SL, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF. Predicting Mortality in Elderly Spine Trauma Patients. Spine. April 21 2022. PMID 35472062
    • White-Dzuro CG, Makhoul AT, Pontell ME, Stephens BF, Drolet BC, Abtahi AM. Perspectives of Orthopedic Surgery Program Directors on the USMLE Step 1 Scoring Change. Orthopedic. April 29th, 2022. PMID: 35485884
    • Abtahi AM, Rees AB, Croft A, Stephens BF. Case Report – Traumatic L5-S1 Instability: Are Upright Radiograph Potentially Dangerous?  International Journal of Spine Surgery. DOI: IJSSURGERY-D-22-00061
    • Warner JP, Penning JS, Nian H, Sivaganesan A, Gupta R, Asher AL, Bydon M, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL, Devin C, Archer KR, Stephens BF.  Rating Spine Surgeons: Physicians Rating Websites verus a Patient Reported Outcomes-Derived Raking Clinical Spine Surgery. May 5, 2022. PMID: 35509107
    • Chanbour H, Gardocki RJ, Zuckerman SL. Commentary: Endoscope-Assisted Retroperitoneal Prepsoas Approach to Lumbar Intervertebral Disk Decompression. Technical Note. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2022 Jul 1;23(1):e49-e50. doi: 10.1227/ons.0000000000000255. Epub 2022 May 9. PMID: 35726934.
    • Roth SG, Chanbour H, Gupta R, O’Brien A, Davidson C, Archer KR, Pennings JS, Devin CJ, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL. Letter to the Editor Regarding “Workforce Trends in Spinal Surgery: Geographic Distribution and Primary Specialty Characteristics from 2012 to 2017” World Neurosurg.  June 16th, 2022. PMID 35658201
    • Roth SG, Chanbour H, Gupta R, O’Brien A, Davidson C, Archer KR, Pennings JS, Devin CJ, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL. Optimal Hemoglobin A1C Target in Diabetics Undergoing Elective Cervical Spine Surgery. The Spine Journal. June 28, 2022. PMID: 35778329
    • Steinle AM, Nian H, Pennings JS, Bydon M, Asher A, Archer KR, Gardocki RJ, Zuckerman SL, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM. Complications, Readmissions, Reoperations and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Undergoing Elective Spine Surgery- A Propensity Matched Analysis. The Spine Journal. June 29th, 2022. PMID: 35779839
    • Hills JM, Weisenthal BM, Wanner JP, Gupta R, Steinle A, Pennings JS, Stephens BF. A Patient-Specific Approach to Alignment and Proximal Junctional Kyphosis Risk Assessment in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Development and Validation of a Predictive Tool. Clinical Spine Surgery.  July 1, 2022 PMID: 35034047
    • Chotai S, Gupta R, Pennings JS, Hymel AM, Archer KR, Zuckerman SL, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM.  Frailty and Sarcopenia: Impact on Outcomes following Elective Degenerative Lumbar Spine Surgery Spine. Spine July 15, 2022. PMID: 35867606
    • McKeithan LJ, Romano JW, Waddell WH, Steinle AM, Pennings JS, Nian H, Archer KR, Bydon M, Knightly J, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL, Stephen BF.  Clinical Outcomes Following Direct verus Indirect Decompression Techniques for Lumbar Spondyloisthesis Spine.  The Spine Journal. July 15, 2022. PMID: 35867585
    • Maclean MA, Touchette CJ, Georgiopoulos M, Bruntette-Clement T, Abduljabbar FH, Ames CP, Bettegowda C, Charest-Morin R, Dea N, Fehlings MG, Gokaslan ZL, Goodwin CR, Laufer I, Netzer C, Rhines LD, Sahgal A, Shin JH,  Sciubba DM, Stephens BF, Fourney DR, Weber MH, AO Spine Knowledge Forum Tumor. Systemic Considerations for the Surgical Treatment of Spinal Metastatic Disease: A Scoping Literature Review.  Lancet Oncology July 23, 2022. PMID: 35772464
    • Gardocki RJ, Chandler PJ, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL.   Case Study of an Full-Endoscopic Thoracic Tarlov Cyst Resection. European Spine Journal.  Pending
    • Chanbour H, Roth SG, LaBarge ME, Stinle AM,  Hills J, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL . The Postoperative Course of Mechanical Complications in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine Deformity. September 5th, 2022. PMID: 36063294
    • Gupta R, Hani C, Roth SG, O’Brien A, Davidson C, Devin CJ, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL.The Ideal Threshold of Hemoglobin A1C in Diabetics Undergoing Elective Lumbar Decompression Surgery. Clinical Spine Surgery October 2022. PMID 36210491
    • Chanbour H, Zuckerman SL, Gardocki RJ. Commentary: Ten-Step 3-Dimensional-Navigated Single-Stage Lateral Surgery With Microtubular Decompression: A Case Series. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2022 Dec 1;23(6):e397-e398. doi: 10.1227/ons.0000000000000449. Epub 2022 Oct 21. PMID: 36251427.
    • Morris CA, Moo Young JP, Savakus JC, Obey MR, Pereira DE, Hills JM, McKane A, Babcock SN, Miller AN, Stephens BF,  Mitchell PM. Neurologic injury after spinopelvic dissociation: Incidence, outcome, and predictors. Elsevier. October 28, 2022. Volume 53, Issue 11. PMID 36371318
    • Tang AR, Steinle AM, Chanbour H, Emeka-Ibe, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL, Abtahi AM. Barbed Suture versus Interrupted Suture in Posterior Cervical Spine Surgery: Are they Equivalent? Spine Surgery and Related Research Journal. November 2022. PMID 36561159
    • Chanbour H, Steinle AM, Tang AR, Gardocki RJ, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL. In Single-Level, Open, Posterior Lumbar Fusion, Does Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion or Posterolateral Fusion Lead to Better Outcomes? Neurosurgery. 2023 Jan 1;92(1):110-117. doi: 10.1227/neu.0000000000002187. Epub 2022 Nov 1. PMID: 36519862.
    • Stephens BF. Khan Inamullah, Parker SL, Bow H, Sivaganesan A, Pennings JS, Steinle AM, Gupta R, Devin CJ. Clinical and Cost-effectiveness of Lumbar Interbody Fusion using Titanium Posterolateral Cage (vs. Propensity Matched Cohort of PEEK cage). Spine Surgery and Related Research Journal. October 2022. Volume 6, No. 6. November 2022. PMID 36561152
    • Steinle AM, Fogel JD, Gupta R, Davidson Claudia, Hymel AM, Vaughan WE, Croft AJ, Pennings JS, Archer KR, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL, Gardocki RJ, Abtahi AM. Assessing The Insurance Deductible Effect On Outcomes Following Elective Spinal Surgery.  World Neurosurgery. December 2022. PMID: 36216246
    • Chanbour H, Gardocki RJ, Zuckerman SL. Commentary: Minimally Invasive Preganglionic C2 Root Section for Occipital Neuralgia: 2 Case Reports and Operative Video. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2023 Mar 1;24(3):e153-e154. doi: 10.1227/ons.0000000000000591. Epub 2022 Dec 23. PMID: 36701602.

    2023

    • Chambers JS, Kropp RG, Gardocki RJ. Reoperation rates and patient-reported outcomes of single and two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2023 Jan;143(1):265-268. doi: 10.1007/s00402-021-04056-y. 
    • Mika AP, Wollenman C, Steinle AM, Chanbour H, Vaughan W, Croft A, Lugo-Pico J , Zuckerman SL, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Presentation of Patients with Spinal Metastases Spine.  Spine. February 2023. PMID 36255355
    • Tang AR, Chanbour H, Steinle AM, Jonzzon S, Roth SG, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL. Which approach leads to more reoperations in single-level, open, posterior lumbar fusion: transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion or posterolateral fusion alone? International Journal of Spine Surgery. Ms. No. IJSSURGERY-D-22-00141R1 February 2023. PMID 36822646
    • Tang AR, Chanbour H, Steinle AM, Jonzzon S, Roth SG, Gardocki RJ, Stephen BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion vs posterolateral fusion alone in the treatment of grade 1 degenerative spondylolisthesis” NEUROSURGERY.  February 2023 PMID 36848669
    • Chanbour H, Zuckerman SL, Chen JW, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM. Unplanned readmission is associated with the decreased overall survival and performance after metastatic spine surgery. SPINE. February 2023. PMID 36780429
    • Olinger C, Coffman A, Campion C, Thompson K, Gardocki R. Initial learning curve after switching to uniportal endoscopic discectomy for lumbar disc herniations. Eur Spine J. 2023 Feb 22. doi: 10.1007/s00586-023-07583-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36811652.
    • Gardocki RJ, Chandler PJ, Vaughan WE, Zuckerman SL, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF. Endoscopic transforaminal treatment of a thoracic perineural cyst: a case report. Eur Spine J. 2023 Feb 23. doi: 10.1007/s00586-023-07582-y. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36813905.
    • Chanbour H, Zuckerman SL, Gardocki RJ. Commentary: Multi-level Endoscopic Transforaminal Interbody Fusion for Severe Discitis, Osteomyelitis, and Kyphotic Deformity in the Lumbar Spine. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2023 Feb 23. doi: 10.1227/ons.0000000000000664. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36815830.
    • Tang AR, Chanbour H, Steinle AM, Jonzzon S, Roth SG, Gardocki RJ, Stephens BF, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL. Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Versus Posterolateral Fusion Alone in the Treatment of Grade 1 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis. Neurosurgery. 2023 Feb 24. doi: 10.1227/neu.0000000000002402. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36848669.
    • Chanbour H, Chen JW, Gangavarapu LS, Bendlfeldt GA, LaBarge ME, Ahmed M, Roth SG, Chotai S, Luo LY, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL Unplanned readmission after surgery for cervical spine metastases. World Neurosurgery. -March 2023 PMID 36584895
    • Ahmed M, Roth SG, Luo LY, Chotai S, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF. Unplanned readmission after surgery for cervical spine metastases. World Neurosurgery. -March 2023 PMID 36584895
    • MacLean M A, Georgiopoulos M, Charest-Morin R, Goodwin CR, Laufter I, Dea N, Shin JH, Gokaslan ZL, Rhines LD, O’Toole JE, Sciubba DM, Fehlings MG, Stephens BF, Bettegowda C, Myrenhaug S, Disch AC, Netzer, Kumar N, Sahgal A, Germscheid NM, Weber, AO Spine Knowledge Forum Tumor .  Perception of Frality in Spinal Metastatic Disease: International Survey of the AO Spine Community. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. March 2023  PMID 36883617
    • Gardocki RJ, Chandler PJ, Vaughan WE, Zuckerman SL, Abtahi AM,  Stephens BF. Endoscopic Transforaminal Treatment of a Thoracic  Perineural Cyst: A Frist In Man Case Report. European Spine Journal. Feb 2023 PMID 36813905
    • Chanbour H, LaBarge ME, Jonzzon S, Roth SG, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Abtahi, Zuckerman SL. Is lower screw density associated with mechanical complications in adult spine deformity surgery?” Spine Deformity.  March 5th, 2023. PMID: 36872418
    • Stephens BF. McKeithan LJ, Wadell WH, Steinle AM, Vaughan WE, Pennington JS, Bydon M, Zukerman SL, Archer KR, Romano J, Nian H, Khan I, Abtahi AM. A Clinical Model to Predict Postoperative Improvement in Sub-Domains of the Modified Japanese Orthopedic Association Score for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy. European Spine Journal. April 2023 PMID: 36877365
    • Moo Young JP, Savakus JC, Obey MR, Pereira DE, Hills JM, McKane A, Babcock SN, Miller AN, Stephens BF, Mitchel PM. Percutaneous Posterior Pelvic Fixation of Spinopevic Dissociation: A Multi Series of Displaced Patterns. Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma. April 4, 2023. PMID: 37016470
    • Alexander N, Gardocki RJ. Awake Transforaminal endoscopic lumbar discectomy in an ambulatory surgery center: early clinical outcomes and complications of 100 patients. Eur Spine J. 2023 June 28. doi: 10.1007/s00586-023-07786-2. PMID: 36848669
    • Chen W, Chanbour H, Bendeldt GA, Gangavarapu LS, Karlekar MB, Abtahi AM, Stephens BF, Zuckerman SL, Chotai S. Palliative Care Consultation Utilization Among Patient Undergoing Surgery for Metastatic Spinal Tumors. World Neurosurgery. August 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2023.07.118 
    • Chanbour H, Waddell WH, Vickery J, LaBarge ME, Croft AJ, Longo M, Roth SG, Abtahi AM, Zuckerman SL,  Stephens BF. L1-Pelvic-Angle: A convenient Measurement to attain optimal deformity correction.  European Spine Journal August 2023. DOI 10.1007/s00586-023-07920-0