San Francisco Spine Surgeons




San Francisco Spine Surgeons Northern California

San Francisco Spine Surgeons evolved from the work of Dr. Lloyd W. Taylor, who came to St. Mary’s Medical Center in 1963. Dr. Taylor was the second-most decorated medical officer in the Second World War. He was Chief of the Orthopaedic Department at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., and Chief of Staff at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

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Dr.Taylor was named to become Surgeon General of the United States Army, but he decided to come to San Francisco to start the San Francisco Orthopaedic Residency Program. Dr. James Zucherman and Dr. Ken Hsu were educated and trained by Dr. Taylor. In 1965, Dr. Gar Wynne joined Dr. Taylor and began doing spine surgery.

In 1972, Dr. Arthur White joined Dr. Taylor and Dr. Wynne. He was sent around the world to work with the most renowned spine experts. He completed a spine surgery fellowship under Dr. Leon Wiltse. Dr. White was chosen to be the first international orthopaedic spine fellow. Dr. White developed the first back school in the U.S., realizing that patient education was key to success for maximizing results in spine care. This is an educational program that teaches practical information about care of the spine, posture, body mechanics, and conservative treatment and prevention of back problems.

We believe that even if surgery is necessary, it is only part of the total rehabilitation program, which includes the education provided in back school.

In 1982, Dr. James Zucherman joined Dr. White. In 1987, Dr. White and Dr. Zucherman gained fame for the spine surgery on Joe Montana, 49ers star quarterback, who was able to return to playing with the San Francisco 49ers football team five weeks after the surgery. Joe Montana won two more Super Bowl championships subsequently. Dr. Zucherman became Medical Director of St. Mary’s Spine Center in 1988 and continues to hold this position at the present time.

In 1984, Dr. Ken Hsu joined Dr. Zucherman and Dr. White. Dr. Hsu is fluent in English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu have been involved in spine research and education. They have each published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in spine surgery.

In 1984, we performed the first pedicle screw fixation West of the Mississippi.
We were the first to publish this new technique in the U.S., which is now state of the art. Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu were trained at Hong Kong University, where anterior spine surgery was initially developed by Professor A.R. Hodgson. Dr. Hsu also received additional training by Dr. Harry Crock in Australia in 1985.

We started performing anterior spine fusion in 1986. In 1987, the first percutaneous cervical discectomy was performed by us. In 1989, Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu were trained in anterior lumbar fusion instrumentation by Dr. Kiyoshi Kaneda in Hokkaido, Japan. In 1992, we developed the first laparoscopic anterior spine surgery in the world. In 1991, Dr. Hsu visited Professor Jürgen Kramer, a world authority in “intervertebral disk disease,” in Bochum, Germany. (He also authored a book with this title.)

In the past 16 years, we have participated in seven FDA IDE studies, including the X-Stop interspinous process device, ProDisc lumbar total disc replacement, FzioMed non-adhesive spinal gel, FlexiCore total disc replacement, CerviCore cervical disc replacement, Prestige cervical disc replacement, and Kiva vertebral augmentation system.

In their work to improve spine surgery with emphasis to develop minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu developed the X-Stop. This interspinous process spacer was approved by the FDA in 2005. At present, there are more than 60 companies worldwide making different variations of this interspinous process device. The X-Stop received the Wall Street Journal Technology of the Year Award. More than 800 cases of interspinous process spacer surgery, including X-Stop surgery, have been performed by us so far.

Over 400 disc replacements have been performed by our group.

In 1991, St. Mary’s Spine Center came to the present facility at One Shrader Street, San Francisco, which is adjacent to St. Mary’s Medical Center. A spinal injection suite was also built at this Spine Center.

Subsequently, spine rehabilitation specialists and pain management experts joined the Spine Center. In-house electrodiagnostic studies as well as diagnostic and therapeutic spinal injections are being performed at this facility. Evaluation and preparation for spinal cord stimulator placement are also performed here.

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In 1988, Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu established a spine surgery fellowship at St. Mary’s Medical Center. In 1996, we started the San Francisco Combined Spine Fellowship with Stanford University.

In 2006, Dr. Dimitriy Kondrashov joined Dr. Zucherman and Dr. Hsu. Dr. Kondrashov is one of the very best spine surgeons to complete the Stanford/St. Mary’s Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship program. Dr. Kondrashov is fluent in both English and Russian. Dr. Kondrashov participated in two iFuse or SI fusion studies, the first SIFI prospective study, and the second Lotus retrospective study on SI fusion.

In 2010, the Taylor Collaboration biomechanics laboratory was established at St. Mary’s Medical Center. This laboratory was previously a part of the UCSF research program. This laboratory works to invent and evaluate spinal and orthopaedic devices used in surgery.

In 2014, Dr. Zucherman, Dr. Hsu, and Dr. Kondrashov officially started the San Francisco Spine Surgeons Group at St. Mary’s Spine Center, completely dedicated to treatment of spinal disorders.

Dr. Lloyd W. Taylor was the founder of San Francisco Orthopedic Residency Program. He fits the saying “a Great Leader is a Great Teacher”. As his biography shows he literally came out of nowhere. As soon as he graduated from medical school he joined the US Army Medical Corp and immediately embroiled in the combat zone of World War II. He figuratively became the strongest steel forge by the fires of hell. He was pounded and struck repeatedly before he was plunged back into the molten fire. The fires gave him power, flexibility and strength. His leadership was a journey that started from within. He became self-aware and then achieve self mastery. You cannot lead others until you can lead yourself. He overcame setbacks, persuading others, empowering them and navigated many crises, armed with a sense of history, humor, passion and purpose. He had the Celestial Spark. He defined the World War II generation who left America strongest and greatest culturally, militarily and economically as Rome did more than 2000 years ago.


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