5 Famous Spine Surgeries Throughout History

Category: Spine, Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

spine surgery throughout history

Back pain has plagued humans for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that there have been some high profile and historic procedures performed. Today, we share some interesting facts about back surgery and five of the most important spine surgery procedures throughout human history.

The First Documented Spine Surgery

Did you know that spine surgery dates back more than 5,000 years? According to an article called “History of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery,” the first recorded spine surgery dates back to Egyptian mummies from 3000 B.C. The first operative spinal surgery treatment came in the 7th century, and was performed by Paulus of Aegina.

Presidential Surgery

John F. Kennedy may be the most famous person to ever undergo a spine surgery. Although it came a few years before he took the Oval Office, JFK was forced to undergo back surgery in 1954 after beating up his back playing football and while serving his country in World War II. In fact, he underwent five spine operations between 1954 and1957. Even though he never had surgery as President, he still received non-operative care while in the White House.

The First Artificial Disc in the US

The first artificial disc replacement operation actually occurred in Europe 15 years before it made its way overseas. Dr. Scott Blumenthal performed the first artificial disc replacement operation in the United States in 2000. Prior to completing the operation, Dr. Blumenthal consulted with surgeons in Europe as well as with Karin Buttner-Janz, the creator of the first FDA-approved artificial disc. Since 2000, Dr. Blumenthal has performed more than 1,400 lumbar and cervical artificial disc replacements.

Stem Cells and Spinal Paralysis

Medical innovations have come a long way since 3000 B.C. Just five years ago, we saw a patient received human embryonic stem cells to treat partial paralysis stemming from a car accident. Three other patients have received a similar treatment, and none have reported adverse side effects.

Surgery For Scoliosis

The first surgery to correct scoliosis in America was performed in 1914 by Dr. Russel Hibbs. Again, Americans weren’t the first to attempt the procedure, as Frenchman Jules Rene Guerin had performed the same procedure 50 years prior. Dr. Hibbs later developed a spinal fusion treatment called the “Hibbs technique” which remained the standard technique for spinal fusion for the next 50 years.


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