Longitudinal Assessment of Modern Spine Surgery Training: 10-Year Follow-up of a Nationwide Survey of Residency and Spine Fellowship Program Directors.

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JB JS Open Access


washington; swedish neuro


UNLABELLED: Spine surgeons complete training through residency in orthopaedic surgery (ORTH) or neurosurgery (NSGY). A survey was conducted in 2013 to evaluate spine surgery training. Over the past decade, advances in surgical techniques and the changing dynamics in fellowship training may have affected training and program director (PD) perceptions may have shifted.

METHODS: This study is a cross-sectional survey distributed to all PDs of ORTH and NSGY residencies and spine fellowships in the United States. Participants were queried regarding characteristics of their program, ideal characteristics of residency training, and opinions regarding the current training environment. χ

RESULTS: In total, 241 PDs completed the survey. From 2013 to 2023, NSGY increased the proportion of residents with >300 spine cases (86%-100%) while ORTH remained with >90% of residents with < 225 cases (p < 0.05). A greater number of NSGY PDs encouraged spine fellowship even for community spine surgery practice (0% in 2013 vs. 14% in 2023, p < 0.05), which continued to be significantly different from ORTH PDs (∼88% agreed, p > 0.05). 100% of NSGY PDs remained confident in their residents performing spine surgery, whereas ORTH confidence significantly decreased from 43% in 2013 to 25% in 2023 (p < 0.05). For spinal deformity, orthopaedic PDs (92%), NSGY PDs (96%), and fellowship directors (95%), all agreed that a spine fellowship should be pursued (p = 0.99). In both 2013 and 2023, approximately 44% were satisfied with the spine training model in the United States. In 2013, 24% of all PDs believed we should have a dedicated spine residency, which increased to 39% in 2023 (fellowship: 57%, ORTH: 38%, NSGY: 21%) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Spine surgery training continues to evolve, yet ORTH and neurological surgery training remains significantly different in case volumes and educational strengths. In both 2013 and 2023, less than 50% of PDs were satisfied with the current spine surgery training model, and a growing minority believe that spine surgery should have its own residency training pathway.


Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)

Clinical Institute

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine