Orthopedic Surgery of the Spine
Med School/Year Graduated: University of California, Los Angeles, 2002
Years in Practice: 12
You specialize in minimally invasive surgical procedures. How does one accomplish that with a structure as complex and unforgiving as the spine?
Technological advances in imaging and surgical navigation – [sort of like] GPS for the spine – provide detailed visualization of the spine, allowing much smaller incisions but better precision. Outside of my medical practice, I’m further developing these technologies, which allow faster recovery and better outcomes in my patients.
In layman’s terms, what is microsurgery?
The structures in the spine can be very small, and millimeters matter when operating near the spinal cord. Microsurgery involves microscopes and specialized instruments to safely perform surgery on anatomy that can be a fraction of an inch in size.
You’re the fellowship co-director at the Spine Institute of Arizona. What has been the most rewarding part of that position?
Our goal is to train the next generation of spine surgeons in the latest techniques, and we are one of the only programs in the country to teach minimally invasive spine surgery. It is immensely rewarding to hear all of our past fellows’ patient success stories.
You’re a Brophy boy! Was returning to the Valley always part of your plan?
Yes! Brophy and its “men for others” philosophy certainly had a big impact on me. I always envisioned myself practicing medicine here. After being gone for 14 years for medical training, I was excited to return to Phoenix.
Do you have any hobbies or interests you pursue in your spare time?
I love the Phoenix outdoors and enjoy hiking Camelback [Mountain], riding bikes, golfing or simply playing with my kids in the yard. Photography is my creative outlet. My wife and I are also avid travelers and love a great adventure.
Name the best depiction of your field in TV or film that you’ve ever seen.
To my knowledge, there are none. Spine surgeons have been neglected in the entertainment industry for too long, so I think our time has come. We’ve gotten one episode in Grey’s Anatomy on scoliosis and one of the characters on Lost was a spine surgeon.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”
I’ve wanted to be a surgeon since I was 9 years old. The combination of science, helping people and the hands-on nature of surgery captivates me. I was also fascinated with planes and dreamt about flying fighter jets. If they make one for a 6-foot-8 person, maybe I’ll reconsider.