Spine Summit 2017— A Celebration of Innovation

Daniel J. Hoh, MD

The 2017 meeting of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves (DSPN), Spine Summit 2017, took place March 8–11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a record of nearly 600 surgeons in attendance. The annual meeting brings together members of the DSPN as well as notable leaders from various guest societies. This year, DSPN welcomed the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS), AO Spine North America (AOSNA), and international guest, the Korean Spinal Neurosurgery Society (KSNS). Together, the spine partners explored the meeting theme Transformative Innovations in Spine Surgery by celebrating the technology, research, and surgeons that have advanced the field.

Leading up to the 2017 meeting, there was an enthusiastic response for abstracts, with more than 450 submissions and more than 200 abstracts selected for oral presentation.

The scientific program began on Wednesday with four special pre-meeting courses. Hands-on Spinal Navigation and Spinal Deformity Surgical Planning Practical Courses provided participants with a combination of case discussions, lectures, and interactive learning. Transformative Spine Care for 2020 offered insight into current and upcoming changes in health care policy and strategies for staying ahead of them. For the first time, the DSPN collaborated with the Joint Section of Neurotrauma and Critical Care (NTCC) to offer a special course on neurotrauma and head injury. In addition to providing a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of clinical protocols and research in head injury, it was an excellent opportunity for attendees to acquire needed trauma CME credit.

Later in the evening, the opening reception treated attendees to food, drinks, and Las Vegas-style entertainment including live music, magicians, and performers from Cirque du Soleil.

Thursday morning’s scientific program began with a plenary session devoted to spinal trauma and sports-related injuries. Invited speaker Amy Van Dyken gave an inspiring account of life as a six-time Olympic gold medalist, the challenges she now faces as a paraplegic following an ATV accident, and the work she is doing to help others with spinal cord injury. We were honored to present Ms. Van Dyken with a check for $5,000 for her foundation. This session also included informative talks on recent advances in spinal cord injury research, and evidence-based criteria for return-to-play after spinal surgery.

DSPN chair Dr. Jack J. Knightly gave an outstanding address on the current state of spine health care—how we are measured and what it means for the future. Honored guests Dr. Iain H. Kalfas, Dr. Alexander R. Vaccaro, and Dr. Volker K. H. Sonntag shared personal accounts of the role innovation played in their careers. The DSPN proudly awarded 24 resident research awards, named in honor of past and current mentors, John Jane Sr., Charles Kuntz IV, and David Kline. Top resident abstract awardees presented scholarly papers with noteworthy commentary by distinguished discussants.

The plenary session that partnered with the SRS on adult spinal deformity surgery in the quality era was the highlight of Thursday’s afternoon scientific program. Late afternoon programming included a dedicated course focused on case-based management of peripheral nerve trauma. Thursday’s activities concluded with a special general session featuring light-hearted debates over cocktails. Prominent luminaries such as Drs. James Harrop, Daniel Resnick, Iain Kalfas, Gregory Trost, Alexander Vaccaro, and Christopher Shaffrey gave competing arguments (both compelling and entertaining) on controversial topics such as the future of spine training, overlapping surgery, and adopting new technology.

Friday’s activities began with breakout sessions for abstract presentations divided into subspecialties such as minimally invasive, deformity, trauma, tumor, peripheral nerve, and basic science. Friday’s plenary session focused on the status of patient-reported outcomes for spine surgery, with updates given by representatives for various spine registries, including NeuroPoint Alliance QOD, North American Spine Society, and American College of Surgeons NSQIP. Also in this session, Dr. Zoher Ghogawala provided an intriguing comparison of the two conflicting randomized controlled studies on surgical treatment for lumbar spondylolisthesis published in the New England Journal of Medicine this past year. Friday afternoon included several exciting special courses covering topics related to spinal oncology, cervical spine surgery (with CSRS), current advances in spine surgery (with AOSNA), and an onsite advanced spine surgical techniques cadaver lab. The DSPN was proud to recognize the scholarly achievements of the next generation of spine leaders at the Young Neurosurgeons Dinner. At this year’s event, honored guest Dr. Sonntag gave a motivating speech to the top abstract award winners, and the record number of neurosurgery residents in attendance for the meeting.

The Spine Summit concluded on Saturday with the David Cahill Memorial Controversies. Historically, this session features back-and-forth discussion by esteemed panelists over controversial clinical scenarios. The 2017 Cahill debates continued this time-honored tradition with rousing, provocative arguments on topics such as ambulatory surgery centers for ACDF, management of geriatric cervical stenosis, and preventing proximal junctional kyphosis after spinal deformity surgery.

Overall, the 2017 Spine Summit was a great success. It was truly a celebration of past, current, and future innovations in spine surgery. Further details of the meeting can be found at the DSPN website, spinesection.org. Planning for next year’s meeting, Restoring Alignment in an Era of Global Change, is already underway. Mark your calendar to join new DSPN chairperson Dr. Marjorie Wang for Spine Summit 2018 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando® in Orlando, Florida, March 14–17, 2018.