Miller School Spine Specialists Prominent at 2024 Spine Summit

Article Summary
  • More than 20 Miller School representatives participated in presentations and discussions at the 2024 Spine Summit.
  • Dr. Allen Levi discussed pars repair, a complex spine procedure that stabilizes the fractured portion of the vertebra.
  • Dr. Shelby Burks presented research from a multicenter clinical trial on spinal cord injury.

Twenty-one University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty, fellows, residents, students and research staff participated in presentations, panel discussions and debates on minimally invasive spine surgery, treatment advances and practice management at the 2024 Spine Summit.

The Spine Summit is the premier educational event for spine and peripheral nerve surgeons and allied health professionals.

From left to right, medical student Meredith Costello, Dr. Shelby Burks, neurosurgery resident Dr. Adham Khalafallah, medical student Joseph Yunga Tigre.
From left to right, medical student Meredith Costello, Dr. Shelby Burks, neurosurgery resident Dr. Adham Khalafallah and medical student Joseph Yunga Tigre at the 2024 Spine Summit.

“It is the largest spine meeting for neurosurgeons in the U.S. and Canada,” said Allan Levi, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of neurological surgery at the Miller School. “Many of the biggest names in spine surgery gather to share and learn novel research findings and surgical techniques, while they catch up with colleagues and former and current trainees.”

Sharing Spine Knowledge, Research and Experience

At the Summit, Dr. Levi shared his experience with pars repair, a complex, minimally invasive way to stabilize a fracture in the vertebra that occurs commonly in adolescent athletes.

Michael Wang, M.D., professor of neurological surgery and chief of service and medical director of the Miller School’s Minimally Invasive Spine Program, participated in an impressive 36 oral presentations, panels and posters, including talks about minimally invasive spine surgery (and, specifically, endoscopic spine surgery).

Dr. Michael Wang presenting at the 2024 Spine Summit.
Dr. Michael Wang said the 2024 Spine Summit provided the opportunity to address a speciality that is undergoing a transition from more invasive to less invasive surgical options.

“Our research and presentations are timely and important because the specialty is in transition, going from more invasive to less invasive surgical options,” Dr. Wang said.

Spine Trauma Updates

S. Shelby Burks, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery at the Miller School, presented on leading-edge topics in spinal cord injury, including peripheral nerve transfers, and spoke during the question-and-answer session of a spine trauma best practices session.

“We presented exciting, preliminary results from a multicenter clinical trial,” Dr. Burks said. “We are fortunate to be able to offer peripheral nerve transfer to patients with spinal cord injury to improve hand function. It involves nerve transfers in the arm and has been shown to be very effective in improving quality of life.”

Miller School researchers also spoke about practice management at the Summit, with Gregory W. Basil, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery and director of endoscopic spine surgery at the Miller School, presenting on how to set up an academic, full-endoscopic practice.

“This meeting is an amazing forum to meet with our colleagues from all over the country and exchange knowledge,” said Dr. Basil, whose talk focused on his experience building out an endoscopic practice and the unique challenges and rewards associated with ultra-minimally invasive surgery.

“This year’s meeting focused on the latest technological advancements in the field and how to harness them to restore patient function,” Dr. Levi said. “I’m proud to say that the Miller School faculty led many of these discussions. We had the opportunity to share on a global stage what we’ve learned about utilizing technology, from employing the latest in minimally invasive surgical techniques to using regenerative therapies that show promise in restoring function. Quality of life for our spine patients is top of mind.”

Miller School faculty also had the opportunity to network with school alumni at a gathering and dinner, as well.  

“The alumni gathering was a tremendous event that attracted more than 30 current trainees and alumni from around North America,” Dr. Levi said. “We shared difficult cases and new ideas and how to manage them. It was capped off by a wonderful dinner.”

Tags: Department of Neurological Surgery, Dr. Allan Levi, Dr. Gregory W. Basil, Dr. Michael Wang, Dr. Stephen Shelby Burks, neurosurgery, spinal cord injuries, spinal surgery, Spine Summit