Robert Talac comments on the future of spine surgery
Robert Talac, MD, PhD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at the Richmond, Texas-based Center for Advanced Surgical Treatment, discusses the future of spinal care.
Question: What led to your interest in nonsurgical techniques?

Dr. Robert Talac: Surgery is necessary in about 10 to 15 percent of patients with neck or low back pain due degenerative changes in their spine. Ever evolving minimally invasive techniques require better and more precise identification of the source of the pain, including those who does not need surgery — this is where nonsurgical techniques come in. I believe spine care is evolving in the following direction as we observed in oncology; we now have surgical oncologists, who are oncologists that use surgery as one of their tools. The era of a general surgeon who just happens to cut out tumors is pretty much over. In spine care, we will soon see spine specialists who will be able to diagnose an entire spectrum of problems and use different tools to treat them, including surgical techniques.

Q: How has spinal care evolved since you graduated from medical school?

RT: Spine care is rapidly evolving. In fact, most of the techniques that I use these days did not exist when I graduated. I believe the biggest breakthrough was understanding that the source of pain can be found, and should be a primary focus of our care.

Q: What do you see as the biggest area for growth in orthopedics today?

RT: The biggest area of growth in orthopedics is in biologics. We are beginning to understand how to manipulate the local tissue environment to promote the healing of injuries. We are slowly, but steadily, moving from a replacement philosophy to restoration, using a combination of new reconstructive techniques that minimize collateral trauma of treatment and utilize more biologics to manipulate the local tissue environment to promote healing and improve function.

Learn more from Dr. Talac at the 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine in June 2017! Click here for more information.