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Thursday, December 08, 2022
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Spine surgeon Seth A. Grossman, MD, has joined The Center for Spinal Disorders. In order to introduce Dr. Grossman to new patients, the following Q&A session with the doctor seeks to answer a variety of questions. Those with additional questions are invited to contact the office using the numbers at the end of the page.

How did you come to join The Center for Spinal Disorders as a spine surgeon?

Though I had a thriving practice on Long Island, I wanted to be closer to family. When I first met with Dr. Lewin, I was excited about the opportunities presented to me in joining the NJ Center for Spinal Disorders. I had a very positive experience meeting Dr. Lewin and his team and felt our goals in the area of spine care were well aligned. Over the years, as part of a busy orthopedic spine practice, I developed a niche in minimally invasive surgery. Technological innovations have helped us push the boundaries in performing less-disruptive surgery, minimizing postoperative pain and shortening recovery time. Dr. Lewin is very supportive of the minimally invasive approach, which is a prominent part of his practice. He is looking to grow that area, as well.

What is your philosophy of care?

I pride myself on not being an aggressive surgeon. I always look to exhaust all non-operative modalities for treatment before considering surgery. When surgery is necessary, I look to employ the least invasive procedure in order to best reduce pain and increase function.

I am also focused on bedside manner. This is becoming somewhat of a lost art in the technological age. I feel it is critical to have empathy and employ a humanistic approach when dealing with patients who are in pain.

What are the latest innovations in your field as a spine surgeon, and can you talk about a specific satisfying result from using one of them?

Minimally invasive surgery is a “hot topic” in our field. The idea of having surgery, especially spinal surgery, is obviously very anxiety provoking. Surgical candidates who suffer from neck and back pain rightfully seek treatment options which allow for the least down time and quickest return to normal activities. In conventional spine surgery, in order to access the spine and correct spinal deformity or nerve compression, a surgeon typically has to strip away the muscles and tendons of the back and remove bone and ligaments. This causes increased pain after surgery which can lead to extended hospital stays, increased need for postoperative pain medication and many other negative effects.

New techniques have been developed recently which allow surgeons to achieve the same correction of spinal deformity and nerve compression with much less disruption of the normal anatomy. Whether it is with advanced microscopic or imaging techniques, which can minimize the size of the field necessary in which to work, or accessing the spine in a novel way, such as going through the patient’s side to access the spinal discs or nerves, we can minimize soft tissue damage. These techniques allow for less pain and less time spent in the hospital. In many cases my patients go home either the same day or the morning after surgery.

It is true that fusion is sometimes necessary to achieve a desired result. However, newer technologies often allow us to avoid fusion. For example, I recently treated a patient who had severe neck pain radiating down his arms and numbness in his fingers. His symptoms had progressively worsened over a number of years despite an extensive course of nonoperative treatment. He had degenerated and herniated discs pressing on his spinal cord and nerves. Traditionally, these discs would be removed and fusion surgery performed. After discussion with the patient, we opted to replace two discs in his neck rather than fusing them, thus preserving his range of motion. The surgery took two hours, and he went home the morning after surgery. At his first post-op visit less than two weeks after surgery he had already returned to near normal function.

Your medical education and experience is notably impressive. Does your background in engineering and computer science help inform your practice or enhance your position as a spine surgeon? If so, how?

I’ve always been very interested in technology. Even though I studied biology and pre-med in college, I also have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in computer engineering. I am interested in how things work. Though we have come a long way in spine surgery, there’s still so much innovation and new technology on the horizon. This is a principal reason I chose to become a spine surgeon. I try to apply some of what I know as an engineer to my medical practice. I think my background gives me more insight and helps me to better understand my field.

As an athlete who has trained and competed in martial arts/boxing, as well as endurance racing, how does your experience as a coach and competitor impact your practice as a spine surgeon? What does it bring to your insights and patient care?

Though my practice and family occupy the majority of my time these days, I still train as much as I can. I feel strongly that living an active lifestyle is essential to maintaining good health, especially in the spine and musculoskeletal system. Maintaining a strong, flexible spine is essential in order to minimize the risk of needing invasive procedures.

As an athlete, I’ve had my share of sports-related injuries over the years. The desire to understand my injuries and how the body works is a key reason why I went into orthopedics. My wife danced professionally as a ballerina for many years. I’m a huge fan of ballet; in my opinion, this is a form of art and athletics which pushes the limits of physical performance. Watching her perform has given me a better appreciation and understanding of biomechanics, which is the foundation of being an orthopedist. Our work is trying to restore and optimize the human body. Whether it be for a professional athlete trying to return to a sport or a patient trying to return to a strenuous work environment, the principles are the same.

Before coming to the Center for Spinal Disorders, Dr. Grossman practiced on Long Island, where he specialized in both nonsurgical and surgical management of spinal disorders, including minimally invasive spine surgery, degenerative disease, deformity/scoliosis, and trauma. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery and licensed to practice medicine in New York and New Jersey.

The Center for Spinal Disorders has offices in Englewood, Rego Park and Brooklyn. To reach the office or Dr. Grossman, please call 201-510-3777 or visit http://www.njspinaldisorders.com.

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