For the optimal viewing experience, please view the HSS Annual report with Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Opera.
Spine Service
Adult Orthopaedics

Spine Service



Andrew A. Sama, MD, and Harvinder S. Sandhu, MD, MBA

Visit the Service Page for the full faculty listing.

2021 Surgical Volume: 4,056
2021 Published Studies: 183

Providing exceptional, leading-edge care is the main mission of the Spinal Surgical Service. We continue to expand our presence outside of New York City to improve access to our high-quality spine care for patients beyond the immediate proximity of the main hospital. Education also continues to be a major priority.

Of particular note, we look forward to increasing capacity and access to HSS spine care thanks to a major contribution from philanthropists Leonard A. Lauder and Ronald S. Lauder in 2021. The newly established Lauder Family Spine Center will be part of a transformation of the HSS main campus in New York City and is scheduled to open in 2024.

Recent Achievements

Our faculty continued to grow and evolve in 2021. We welcomed new spine surgeons Sariah Khormaee, MD, PhD, and Gbolabo Sokunbi, MD, both of whom completed their fellowship training at HSS. Additionally, Matthew Cunningham, MD, was promoted to associate attending orthopaedic surgeon.

Our surgeons shared results of several studies at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2021 annual meeting that reflect our commitment to value and innovation. Of note, Han Jo Kim, MD, presented an enhanced recovery pathway developed in adult patients undergoing thoracolumbar deformity surgery. The study population achieved remarkable results with the optimized pathway. No patients went to the intensive care unit following surgery, compared with the usual 30%. Hospital stays decreased from an average of 7.3 days to 4.5 days. Discharge to home versus to a rehabilitation facility decreased from 95% to 65%. The results of the investigation were published in the January 2021 edition of the Spine Journal.

In addition, numerous faculty on our service continue to evaluate the accuracy and efficacy of robotic- and navigation-assisted technology. Darren Lebl, MD, and Sheeraz Qureshi, MD, co-edited a special issue of the HSS Journal, published in October, which is dedicated entirely to the use of surgical navigation and robotics in orthopaedic surgery. Another study, led by Dr. Lebl and presented at the AAOS annual meeting, demonstrated highly accurate screw positioning using such technologies, and that the additional time needed for adoption is relatively small. The results were also published in the June edition of the Journal of Spine Surgery.

Our faculty received a number of distinctions in 2021. Todd Albert, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus, was named the incumbent of the Richard R. Rogers Chair to Advance Spine Care. In addition, Dr. Kim was named the incumbent of the David B. Levine MD Endowed Chair in Scoliosis.

Our faculty also served in a number of leadership roles in national and international societies this year. Among them was Dr. Qureshi, who acted as program chair for the International Society for Advancement of Spine Surgery Annual Meeting. He was also appointed Chair of the Publication Committee for Cervical Spine Research Society as well as the Secretary for the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Notable Studies

Avrumova F, Morse KW, Heath M, Widmann RF, Lebl DR. Evaluation of K-wireless robotic and navigation assisted pedicle screw placement in adult degenerative spinal surgery: learning curve and technical notes. J Spine Surg. 2021 Jun;7(2):141-154. doi: 10.21037/jss-20-687. PMID: 34296026; PMCID: PMC8261565.

Dorilio J, Utah N, Dowe C, Avrumova F, Alicea D, Brecevich A, Callanan T, Sama A, Lebl DR, Abjornson C, Cammisa FP. Comparing the Efficacy of Radiation Free Machine-Vision Image-Guided Surgery With Traditional 2-Dimensional Fluoroscopy: A Randomized, Single-Center Study. HSS J. 2021 Oct;17(3):274-280. doi: 10.1177/15563316211029837. Epub 2021 Jul 14. PMID: 34539267; PMCID: PMC8436349.

Morse KW, Heath M, Avrumova F, Defrancesco C, Fabricant PD, Lebl DR, Widmann RF. Comprehensive Error Analysis for Robotic-assisted Placement of Pedicle Screws in Pediatric Spinal Deformity: The Initial Learning Curve. J Pediatr Orthop. 2021 Apr 29. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000001842. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33927101.

Adl Amini, D, Moser M, Oezel L, Zhu J, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. Development of a decision-making pathway for utilizing standalone lateral lumbar interbody fusion. Eur Spine J. 2021 Oct.

Okano I, Salzmann SN, Jones C, Reisener MJ, Ortiz Miller C, Shirahata T, Shue J, Carrino JA, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. The effect of obesity, diabetes, and epidural steroid injection on regional volumetric bone mineral density measured by quantitative computed tomography in the lumbosacral spine. Eur Spine J. 2021 Jan;30(1):13-21. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06610-5. Epub 2020 Oct 10.PMID: 33040205.

Okano I, Salzmann SN, Ortiz Miller C, Hoshino Y, Oezel L, Shue J, Sama AA, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP, Hughes AP. Risk factors for postoperative dysphagia and dysphonia following anterior cervical spine surgery: a comprehensive study utilizing the hospital for special surgery dysphagia and dysphonia inventory (HSS-DDI). Spine J. 2021 Jul;21(7):1080-1088. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2021.02.011. Epub 2021 Feb 19.PMID: 33610803.

Louie PK, Vaishnav AS, Gang CH, Urakawa H, Sato K, Chaudhary C, Lee R, Mok JK, Sheha E, Lafage V, Qureshi SA. Development and Initial Internal Validation of a Novel Classification System for Perioperative Expectations Following Minimally Invasive Degenerative Lumbar Spine Surgery. Clin Spine Surg. 2021 Nov 1;34(9):E537-E544. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001246. PMID: 34459472.

Morse KW, Alluri RK, Vaishnav AS, Urakawa H, Mok JK, Virk SS, Sheha ED, Qureshi SA. Do pre-operative clinical and radiographic characteristics impact patient outcomes following one-level minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion based upon presenting symptoms? Spine J. 2021 Oct 23:S1529-9430(21)00973-6. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2021.10.013. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34699995.

Shafi K, Lovecchio F, Riew GJ, Samartzis D, Louie PK, Germscheid N, An HS, Cheung JPY, Chutkan N, Mallow GM, Neva MH, Phillips FM, Sciubba DM, El-Sharkawi M, Valacco M, McCarthy MH, Makhni MC, Iyer S. Telemedicine in research and training: spine surgeon perspectives and practices worldwide. Eur Spine J. 2021 Aug;30(8):2143-2149. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06716-w. Epub 2021 Jan 22. PMID: 33481089; PMCID: PMC7820826.

Lovecchio F, Riew GJ, Samartzis D, Louie PK, Germscheid N, An HS, Cheung JPY, Chutkan N, Mallow GM, Neva MH, Phillips FM, Sciubba DM, El-Sharkawi M, Valacco M, McCarthy MH, Makhni MC, Iyer S. Provider confidence in the telemedicine spine evaluation: results from a global study. Eur Spine J. 2021 Aug;30(8):2109-2123. doi: 10.1007/s00586-020-06653-8. Epub 2020 Nov 22. PMID: 33222003; PMCID: PMC7680633.

Kim HJ, Steinhaus M, Punyala A, Shah S, Elysee JC, Lafage R, Riviera T, Mendez G, Ojadi A, Tuohy S, Qureshi S, Urban M, Craig C, Lafage V, Lovecchio F. Enhanced recovery pathway in adult patients undergoing thoracolumbar deformity surgery. Spine J. 2021 May;21(5):753-764. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2021.01.003. Epub 2021 Jan 9. PMID: 33434650.

Iyer S, Shafi K, Lovecchio F, Turner R, Albert TJ, Kim HJ, Press J, Katsuura Y, Sandhu H, Schwab F, Qureshi S. The Spine Physical Examination Using Telemedicine: Strategies and Best Practices. Global Spine J. 2022 Jan;12(1):8-14. doi: 10.1177/2192568220944129. Epub 2020 Aug 5. PMID: 32755256.

Riew GJ, Lovecchio F, Samartzis D, Louie PK, Germscheid N, An H, Cheung JPY, Chutkan N, Mallow GM, Neva MH, Phillips FM, Sciubba D, El-Sharkawi M, Valacco M, McCarthy MH, Makhni MC, Iyer S. Telemedicine in Spine Surgery: Global Perspectives and Practices. Global Spine J. 2021 Jun 14:21925682211022311. doi: 10.1177/21925682211022311. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34121482.

Alluri R, Clark N, Sheha E, Shafi K, Geiselmann M, Kim HJ, Qureshi S, Dowdell J. Location of the Femoral Nerve in the Lateral Decubitus Versus Prone Position. Global Spine J. 2021 Oct 7:21925682211049170. doi: 10.1177/21925682211049170. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34617812.


Education also continues to be a major priority, and as part of this mission we are actively building new partnerships and engaging leaders in the field through a variety of virtual conferences. One key initiative was the inaugural HSS Global Partnership Virtual Spine Conference series. This highly engaging conference brought together more than 8,000 virtual participants to discuss the latest advances in spinal surgery. Additionally, our Spine Symposium with Peking University's Peking Union Medical College Hospital, in Beijing, attracted more than 8,000 virtual attendees on the topic of spine deformities.

In addition, with leadership from Alexander Hughes, MD, the Service established a quarterly international conference in spine surgery with The Charité. Located in Berlin, Germany, The Charité is one of Europe’s leading university hospitals, and this conference will foster the exchange of knowledge and best practices through case and literature presentations from experts at both institutions.

Looking Ahead

Research remains among the highest priorities for the Spinal Surgical Service. Our goal is to identify the fundamental questions in spine surgery, design effective studies to answer these questions and properly analyze and disseminate the learnings from our research.

We also partner with our laboratory colleagues in the HSS Research Institute to advance our understanding of spinal conditions. In 2021, scientist Chitra Dahia, PhD, received two National Institutes of Health grants totaling $6 million for translational research aimed at understanding the root cause of disc degeneration and chronic back pain in order to develop treatment options that do not rely on addictive pain-relieving medications.

Our clinical imperative is to be one of the world’s leading centers in the comprehensive care of all forms of spinal disorders. Spinal disease is the leading musculoskeletal cause of disability. We are working to leverage advances in predictive analytics, navigation and robotic technologies and outcomes assessment to cost-effectively improve spinal conditions for humans throughout the world. Finally, we continue to promote increased awareness and importance of musculoskeletal treatment and prevention strategies in these areas by working closely with our partners in physiatry, rehabilitation and other disciplines.

Rotation Icon
Please rotate your device
We support landscape portrait mode only