Unlike other facilities, where spine surgeries are performed as part of an orthopedic or neurosurgical practice, this state-of-the-art facility opened in 2015 as a hospital within a hospital — with facilities and personnel dedicated to treating back and neck problems ranging from more commonplace disk herniation and spinal stenosis to the most severe forms of crippling spinal deformities. A dedicated inpatient unit includes 15 beds, a rooftop garden, and patient navigators to help coordinate care for patients and their families. After an operation, most patients receive care in a single room until they are discharged, using a universal-care model that increases patient comfort. Like the operating rooms, these rooms are optimized to ensure patients are properly monitored by a team that is trained to specifically care for them.
Dr. Lenke is more than just a surgeon here. He, along with two colleagues, Dr. Riew and Dr. Ronald Lehman, helped design the hospital from scratch with a team of NewYork-Presbyterian experts. Their goal was to conceive a prototype that would set the standard for similar facilities in the future. “We wanted to design a better model of patient care,” Dr. Lenke says.
That model includes access to the latest technologies, including EOS imaging. Based on Nobel Prize–winning technology, the EOS equipment scans the entire body of the patient in a standing position and not just the back. The image displays individual vertebrae position and orientation of a patient’s entire skeleton, providing physicians with a comprehensive view of any musculoskeletal deformities. It also helps them determine whether surgery is necessary and which procedure would be the most beneficial. Because an ailment such as neck pain might be the result of an issue elsewhere in the body, advanced imaging allows the physicians to better understand each patient’s individual skeletal anatomy.
“The spine is the backbone of the body [but] everything is correlated — how the skull is positioned, how the hips and knees are positioned,” Dr. Lenke says. “It’s important to assess the entire body before spinal reconstructive surgery.”
The EOS machine also creates 3-D images of the entire spine — a tool that used to require a radiation-intense, 2-D CT scan. The Spine Hospital is one of a handful of hospitals in the city with EOS capabilities, and the hospital’s two machines ensure greater access for patients. It is also a leader in robot-assisted surgeries, and was the first hospital in New York with a spinal robot that typically improves the speed, accuracy and efficiency of spinal surgeries, and cuts down on recovery times.
“We’re evolving over time in the procedures we do, [aiming] for the least amount of surgery to make it much safer with better results,” Dr. Lenke says.