Complex Spine Surgery

Any type of back surgery requires surgical skill and a patient’s commitment to proper rehabilitation. But one category of back surgery called “complex spine surgery” is the most difficult to perform, and requires the highest level of patient commitment to be successful.

Complex spine surgeries are those that:

  • Involve six or more vertebrae in the spine
  • Require six or more hours of surgery

People considering this type of surgery have spinal deformities or major curvatures from scoliosis or kyphosis, spinal tumors, or severe spinal trauma.

When you come to Virginia Mason for help, you begin a process to determine the best treatment for you. If surgery is the appropriate option, the path ahead is difficult and you will face a long and challenging recovery. Learn more about complex spine surgery or schedule a consultation by calling (206) 223-7525.

After the initial six months or so, many of our patients report that the results are worth it. Most enjoy increased mobility and a significant reduction in the day-to-day pain they have lived with for years.

Experience and Innovation Count

The complex spine surgery program at Virginia Mason has some of the most skilled and experienced spine surgeons in the world. Their ongoing involvement in leading research projects is helping to improve complex spine surgery protocols around the world.

Under the leadership of renowned surgeon and researcher Rajiv Sethi, MD, Virginia Mason leads the nation in applying appropriate treatment strategies for our patients. Unique aspects of the program are:

  • A case conference review with clinical professionals from multiple medical fields — At Virginia Mason, every potential case for complex spine surgery is reviewed in detail by a multidisciplinary team, including:
    • Two surgeons
    • An internist
    • A physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
    • Spine care nurses
    • At least two members of the spine anesthesiology team

   Together, these specialists determine if surgery is appropriate and identify any issues that need to be resolved before surgery.

  • The unique team approach to the surgery — In most medical centers, one surgeon performs a complex spine surgery. Some do have two surgeons in the operating room at times. Virginia Mason is one of the few medical centers in the country where the dual-surgeon approach is part of the protocol for every complex spine surgery.

With these and other innovations, patients are three times less likely to develop major complications, including wound infection, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and urinary tract infections. 

See evidence-based outcomes for specific data on how well our complex spine patients recover after surgery.