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Surgeons that do Direct Repairs - Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis

Started by Yub Yub on 10/03/2017 11:18pm

I'm doing this discussion because as someone who's dealt with spondy now for 7 years I've done the research and recently pursued surgery here in the Southwest US so I thought I'd give some advice to those looking at direct repairs or fusions for their spondy.

Some background on me: 27 year old male, no back pain until 20 years old while squatting in the gym, felt pop and immense pain. Originally mis-diagnosed as back sprain for 2 years until diagnosed with bilateral pars defects at L5 from MRI. Went the next 5 years with daily mild back pain that would flare with increased activity. Today I no longer run, work out, swim or can lift heavy things due to severe pain the next day. I've tried physical therapy multiple times with no relief.

For young adults or teens who know they have pars defects, are in pain that is limiting their ability to participate in sports or activities, and have tried conservative treatment without relief should consider a direct repair or surgical intervention like a fusion, preferably direct repair.

I say this only because I knew of direct repairs for years. Always had it in the back of my mind as something I would pursue, however, I waited too long. At the age of 27 , 7 years after my initial injury I developed a spondylolisthesis grade 1, started to have degenerative changes at discs and facet degenerative changes - these are all major contraindications for doing a direct repair. So wait, try conservative treatment for 6 months to a year like the research suggests but pursue surgery especially if your pain is limiting you from participating in sports or is limiting your daily activities.

Next advice, for those looking for a neurosurgeon who performs direct repairs I'm going to list some docs I found in my search who do the surgery. In my experience surgeons who perform the surgery are extremely hard to find! It took me hours and multiple frustrating days of calling hospitals and searching online to find a small number of surgeons who perform the surgery in my area. Most surgeons do not do the procedure, I even met a neurosurgeon who didn't even know what I meant when I asked if she did direct repairs. The majority of surgeons will do fusions for spondy and that's it.

I live in NM, I can tell you No docs in NM perform this surgery - 100% positive.

1 surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix has performed 2-3 of these surgeries. Can't remember the name.

Apparently only 1 surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota does direct repairs - not sure how many he has done.

2 surgeons at Emory in Georgia perform direct repairs- supposedly the best- but when I called it was going to take months to be seen and they never got back to me.

Denver, CO- I called every neurosurgery clinic in Denver. There are about 3-5 surgeons who perform direct repairs. Call around and you will find them. Experiences with the procedure vary, but most do not have a lot of experience doing the procedure from what I found. Also apparently the surgeons at CU university do this procedure.

Vail, CO- Steadman Clinic. I saw Dr. Corenman at the Steadman clinic in Vail. He told me has done dozens of these surgeries. Usually on young athletes. He would be the one I recommend to you guys, although he told me I wasn't a candidate for direct repair he told me a fusion is a better option for me due to degenerative changes. From what I could find he has the most experience in this area of the US.

Hope this helps someone.

I will likely pursue surgery next year. I was told my 2 surgeons I will eventually need surgery but to wait until my pain is so severe or I start to have neuro symptoms. 1 surgeon recommend surgery right now because I can't participate in sports.

Do you find this discussion helpful?

2 Responses


Hi, Yub Yub--thank you for your post!

Dr. Corenman is a member of our Editorial Board and recently wrote content for us about pars fracture and spondylolisthesis. We thought the article would be of interest to you: ( Spondylolisthesis and Pars Fractures ).

Keep us posted on how you're doing!


Oh goodness! Thank you so so much!! I'm going to my neurosurgeon appointment on Monday the 31st. And I'm in such pain. I've been to ER 4 times since November (the aggravating/worsening trauma to my previous condition...). Having so many neurological symptoms come up. And I'm terrified they're going to string me along trying to medicate me till god knows when.
Ive had condition since 2015. And they act like this sudden fact it is now severe/chronic is some desperate drug feeling act!! I can't stand it. Two ER drs, had my back. Wanted to take care of me. The last two today denied even the ability to give me an mri. As I'm in a damn wheel chair! I'm 26!

Ugh new Mexico!!

Fingers crossed Monday will go better though. I'm opting for surgery. I rather get this directly fixed now. THEN work on medications than to work up my tolerance to meds. Surgery. Then more meds.

Can you refer any one specific location that you've had good success with? Surgeon or their practice?
Az is close enough. And my husband is from Colorado so the trips seem doable. I'll travel anywhere in the us quite honestly to fix this pain