November 14, 2013

Aaronson named medical director of Spine Center

Oran Aaronson, M.D., associate professor of Neurological Surgery, has been named medical director of the Vanderbilt Spine Center.

Oran Aaronson, M.D., was recently named medical director of the Vanderbilt Spine Center. (photo by John Russell)

Oran Aaronson, M.D., associate professor of Neurological Surgery, has been named medical director of the Vanderbilt Spine Center.

Founded in 2010, the Vanderbilt Spine Center offers a full range of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options, including medications, physical therapy and injections. It specializes in surgery for degenerative spinal conditions, deformity, tumors, trauma and revision of previous surgery.

“Our Spine Center concept is novel,” Aaronson said. “It provides a more comprehensive way of treating patients. Rather than orthopaedics and neurosurgery working as independent entities in competition, we’re collaborating to optimize care. The patient sees the right provider for the right condition at the right time.”

Aaronson said back pain is the second most common reason for people to miss work, following the common cold.

“Spine problems cause a lot of pain and suffering for patients. The right treatment can often make a huge difference for their quality of life,” he said.

To pinpoint the right treatment, the Spine Center enrolls patients in an outcomes registry and is developing an “outcomes calculator.” Weighing factors such as age, current condition and health history, the calculator can predict the likelihood of success with a certain treatment.

“Vanderbilt is a national leader in outcomes research, and it fits into the national conversation going on now. Health care costs are obviously out of control and spine surgery had particularly attracted attention, but our research shows that surgery is actually hugely beneficial in the right patient,” Aaronson said.

“We’re poised with our multidisciplinary approach to only do surgery in those who need it. It’s based on evidence, not on anecdotes or how we’ve always done it in the past.”

The outcomes registry has revealed that within three months of surgery, 97 percent of patients have returned to work. The Spine Center also averages 98 percent patient satisfaction.

“We’re trying hard to reduce wait times, and patients are often seen within a week. I feel strongly about customer service and we have a great team that feels the same way. From receptionists to nurses to therapists to surgeons, we all take patient satisfaction seriously,” Aaronson said.

The Spine Center now has six locations in Middle Tennessee: Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, the Village at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Neurosurgery in Cool Springs and Mt. Juliet, Vanderbilt Bone and Joint in Franklin and Vanderbilt Spine Center at NorthCrest Medical Center.

The Spine Center has also made an impact on the national stage, with faculty and residents giving more than 70 presentations last year and garnering 11 national awards.

Aaronson joined the Vanderbilt Neurosurgical faculty in 2004 after residency at VUMC. He also completed a Master of Management in Health Care at Owen Graduate School of Management.

Aaronson succeeds Dan Spengler, M.D., professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and former chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.