NASS/JSRS Spine Across the Sea Meeting: First In-Person Conference in 18 months!
by: Dr. David Wong
It was a joy to be able to attend the first face-to-face international spine conference held since the Covid Pandemic lockdown began.
Every three years, the North American Spine Society (NASS) and the Japanese Spine Research Society (JSRS) co-sponsor the Spine Across the Sea (SxS) meeting in Hawaii. This conference is a superb opportunity for researchers and clinicians from both sides of the Pacific to present their latest research, debate controversial topics in spine treatments, exchange ideas, and network with their counterparts.
Unfortunately, at the last minute, Japan went back into Covid lockdown so the Japanese attendees were not able to attend in person. Fortunately, infrastructure was already in place to move the conference to a virtual format, so the Japanese attendees presented and interacted via Zoom.
Nevertheless, the Program Co-Chairs from NASS and JSRS organized superb sessions addressing many of the ongoing controversies in spine care such as: surgical complications, new concepts in imaging, bone health in management of spinal disorders, and management of lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis.
Overall, very interesting to see the trend in spine surgery in both countries moving towards the minimally invasive microsurgical approach that we have been practicing in our clinic for more than 20 years.
Credit for the advanced, cutting-edge position of Denver Spine Surgeons in the field of minimally spinal invasive microsurgery clearly rests on the shoulders of our late partner, John McCulloch, who tragically died in a skiing accident in 2002.
John was motivated to investigate more minimally invasive approaches after experiencing treatment for his own lumbar herniated disc. He viewed use of the operating microscope as the key to the development of minimally invasive surgery. Many of the instruments we use for microsurgery today were designed by McCulloch and still bear his name.
As he gained more experience with microsurgery, McCulloch and his long-term neurosurgical collaborator, Paul Young, developed more advanced techniques. These techniques are still used to improve patient outcomes, decrease risk of future fusion surgeries, and decrease recovery time.
The most relevant and interesting portions of the Spine Across the Sea meeting showcased the ongoing worldwide adoption of minimally invasive spine surgery. Included in the discussion were several of the more advanced techniques developed by Dr. McCulloch. The current members of Denver Spine Surgeons continue to employ these minimally invasive microsurgical procedures on a daily basis and teach these techniques to new generations of spine surgeons as faculty for hands-on courses sponsored by the North American Spine Society (NASS).