As the opioid crisis continues to impact communities across the world, a physician-scientist at USA Health has been named the principal investigator of an international phase II clinical trial to evaluate the safety of a drug for babies born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.
About the USA Health Complex Spine Center
Having a spinal problem is a complex disease that requires more than just a skilled surgeon. It requires compassionate, evidence-based, streamlined care from the very beginning.
USA Health is the Gulf Coast’s only academic medical center. This means the doctors that train other doctors provide and supervise care. This also requires that practitioners and providers utilize the best and latest in academic research regarding all spine pathologies. Neurosurgeons are fellowship trained to specifically help with different aspects of complex spine problems and regularly attend and present at regional, national, and international neurosurgical academic conferences.
USA Health utilizes all the resources available at an academic medical center. To have the best possible outcomes we integrate care from the leading professionals in all aspects of spine care. This occurs before, during and after surgery. We partner with our colleagues in different medical specialties including physical therapy, occupational therapy, trauma surgery, orthopedic surgery, neuroradiology, interventional radiology, and critical care/internal medicine physicians.
Complex cases at USA Health are reviewed with different surgeons at our formal spine conference. This serves as a teaching modality for surgeons-in-training but also allows for a review of cases among professionals, integration of the latest scientific findings into the treatment plan and review with other experts in the field. This can improve outcomes and reduce complications.
Spinal Deformity Service
The USA Health Complex Spine Center functions as a referral base for challenging and complex cases related to spinal deformity in both children and adults. This includes scoliosis, spinal deformity, and revision back surgery. The Complex Spine Center focuses on complex spinal disorders in both children and adults.
Spinal deformity, revision back surgery, and scoliosis are serious problems with complex solutions. From the beginning, the entire spine team is involved in your care. Patients undergoing spine reconstruction surgery will meet with a physical therapist before, immediate following surgery, and in the post-operative care sequence if indicated. Patients will meet the surgeon who will directly answer all questions, but the Complex Spine Clinical Nurse will also help coordinate multiple different aspects of your care. The goal is to have all of the patient’s questions answered before surgery and provide a constant line of communication with someone you know and trust.
This will continue in the hospital as well with a dedicated spine team protocol where patients will undergo the same standardized, evidence-based approach, with professionals who routinely treat complex spine patients.
Spine Fracture Service
USA Health University Hospital is the region’s only level 1 trauma center. Neurosurgeons at USA Health are experts in the evaluation, management, and treatment of operative and non-operative spine fractures in both children and adults.
Triage of Care
Patients presenting through the USA Health Fanny Meisler Trauma Center are first seen by a fellowship-trained trauma surgery specialist. These physicians treat and triage the patient’s entire trauma care and critically manage the patient during their initial presentation to the trauma emergency room and throughout their hospitalization. They will consult the neurosurgical team for brain and spinal cord injuries, including spine fractures.
Our Spine Fracture Service fully integrates the latest in standard of care from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Guidelines regarding the operative and non-operative management of spine fractures.
Treatment pathways include a conservative therapy approach whenever possible. Treatment of a spine fracture can involve observation, treatment with a brace or external orthosis, minimally invasive surgery, or traditional open surgery. Each care plan is individualized to the patient but the process of how the treatment is carried out is identical each time. This reduces uncertainty, improves patient satisfaction, and can reduce complications.
Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery and Navigation
Leading technology, available at USA Health, allows for minimally invasive surgery whenever possible in appropriate cases. This minimally invasive technique can result in less post-operative pain, less blood loss, less chance of infection, and quicker recovery. Intra-operative navigation is a technological adjunct that can serve as a real-time GPS for the surgeon during select spine cases. This is just another tool available at our academic medical center.
Academic centers, by definition, drive the field of complex surgery. Our team is at the forefront of research in spinal surgery related to outcomes, techniques and socioeconomic data. Neurosurgeons at the University of South Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that changes the way other surgeons take care of spine trauma patients.
- Drs. Rusyniak and Martino published the outcomes for a different approach to complex thoracolumbar trauma.
- Dr. Menger and colleagues published a new technique for the treatment of complex upper cervical fractures.
- Along with residents and trainees numerous book chapters, like this one, have been authored.
- Multiple studies are actively ongoing.
Erin Roberts, RN, Complex Spine Nurse
Erin handles all aspects of nursing in the clinic before and after surgery. Erin attended the University of Alabama in Birmingham where she received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing. She started in the operating room at USA Health University Hospital and has recently transitioned to the Strada Center to work with Dr. Menger and the USA neurosurgery department.
Carmen Morehead, RN, Inpatient Coordinator for the Spine Team
Carmen is the lead during the in-hospital portion of care. Carmen Morehead, RN is the Clinical Nurse Facilitator for the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at USA Health University Hospital and the inpatient coordinator for the Spine Team. She graduated from the University of South Alabama College of Nursing in 2013 and worked in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital for five years before transitioning to a leadership role.