Spine Surgery

Spine Surgery

Virginia's Spine Surgery Specialists


Neurosurgeons are instrumental in the surgical treatment of spinal disorders, and in fact, over two-thirds of all surgeries performed by neurosurgeons are for spine disorders and injuries. Our spine surgeons provide intensive education to patients, and maintain close working relationships with referring physicians by keeping them apprised of their patients' initial visits, hospital stays, and follow-up visits.

Our team of Experts

Chris Shaffrey leads our team of spine specialists, which includes neurosurgeons Jeff EliasGreg Helm, John Jane Sr., John Jane Jr., Mark Shaffrey, Jason Sheehan, Justin Smith and Dennis Vollmer.

Click on their links for individual contact information, or please feel free to call our general number (434) 924-2203 (Local) or 1-800-362-2203 (Toll free) and our staff will help you.

Spine Disorders

Spinal disorders include: degenerative arthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated or degenerative disc disease, instability due to arthritis, trauma, scoliosis, spina bifida, osteoporosis, fractures and spinal cord tumors.

Learn More:


three images of the spineTreatment of spinal disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach involving UVa’s neurosurgeons, as well as the patient’s physician and physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and pain management specialists. This collaborative approach sometimes means that surgery can be avoided. However, if pain persists despite extensive non-surgical treatment – or if surgery is the most appropriate first option – our nationally recognized spine surgeons are well-versed in all current techniques and are aided by a top-flight nursing staff.

Most patients with spine disease will go through three phases of care: presentation, diagnosis and treatment. Patients typically present to their family physician with back or neck pain which may radiate into the leg or arm. Depending on a patient’s condition, the symptoms may be treated first by their primary care doctor, commonly with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. At other times an imaging study is necessary to make a diagnosis, after which the most appropriate treatment can be determined. The majority of spinal afflictions can be treated with a combination of medicine, physical therapy and other remedies such as chiropractic manipulation or exercise.

When pain persists despite these treatments, a referral for surgery may be appropriate. In determining whether surgery is necessary, our doctors take many factors into consideration including imaging studies, a physical exam and the patient’s desire for pain relief. The decision to proceed with surgery is a collaborative process between the patient, the referring physician and UVa’s neurosurgery team, made after a thorough discussion of the risks, benefits and probable outcomes.

Follow these links for more information on some of the surgeries that our doctors perform:
Anterior discectomy and fusion
Posterior foraminotomy and discectomy
Posterior laminectomy
Spine Universe

Our team takes as much time as necessary to go over any questions or concerns, as well as to discuss in detail the patient’s condition. Physicians from UVa will also continue to work with the patient and the referring physician after surgery to shorten the recovery period with the goal of resuming normal activity as soon as possible.

Minimally Invasive Spine Treatment

In addition to these more traditional surgeries, Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty were developed as minimally invasive treatments. In Vertebroplasty, a small amount of orthopedic cement, called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), is pushed through a needle into the vertebral body. The cement hardens quickly, and within a few hours, patients are up and moving around. In addition to relieving pain, those vertebral bodies that are weakened but not yet fractured can be strengthened. Kyphoplasty uses balloons to expand the space where the cement is injected, which can restore height to the spine and help reduce deformity.