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ISASS - The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery

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ISASS Overview and History

Born from the trend in the spine industry to look at motion preservation as an alternative to fusion in the year 2000, The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery (formerly The Spine Arthroplasty Society) - has worked to achieve its mission of acting as a global, scientific and educational society organized to provide an independent venue to discuss and address the issues involved with all aspects of basic and clinical science of motion preservation, stabilization, innovative technologies, MIS procedures, biologics and other fundamental topics to restore and improve motion and function of the spine for: surgeons, scientists, inventors and others. ISASS is dedicated to advancing major evolutionary steps in spine surgery.

ISASS is a special interest group of medical and associated specialists devoted to the field of clinical and structural amelioration and restoration of the joints of the spinal column. The society’s focus is on restoration, or replacement and potential return to normal function lost by degenerative conditions of spinal joints, especially where prostheses or orthoses may be required to accomplish these goals.

Over the years, ISASS has met challenges to its mission, the biggest of which was evolving from a handful of members into the force it is today of more than one thousand-strong. Bringing the best of breed in terms of surgeons, technologies, innovators and management together, ISASS grew and prospered by evolving the scope of its initial disc replacement focus to include the biology behind disc degeneration. “Mechanical solutions are good solutions, but we need to move to a biological solution,” says Jean-Charles LeHuec, MD, PhD, and past ISASS President. “In 2011 ISASS changed its name to include these new developments. This is the new road for the society.”

With the name modification adopted in 2009, the formerly titled Spine Arthroplasty Society was changed to ISASS - The Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery and in 2011 the membership will vote to officially change the name of the Society to ISASS – The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. This evolution allows ISASS to continue to morph over time as new science is uncovered and new innovations are accepted. The change positions ISASS to avoid the complexities of being tied to one solution. “We can’t fix ourselves to one device or concept, because it may not always work,” says current ISASS President, Steven Garfin, MD, a supporter of the recent name change.

In addition, ISASS is taking a more pro-active political role for new spine procedures worldwide, with hopes to expedite acceptance of the latest innovations in spine surgery by both the insurance industry and government alike. Acting politically brings its own challenges, as it is difficult to navigate beyond many different geographical borders in terms of government rules and financial and insurance limitations. “The hope is that the science and patient care is the same across nations,” says Garfin. “We want people to join ISASS because we give them something that’s needed on an international basis.”

Throughout this time of attaining and sustaining growth, ISASS has truly become the international leader for spine surgery. “I am most proud of the influence ISASS has attained with forward thinking surgeons,” says Stephen Hochschuler, MD, past ISASS president. “Our annual meeting has evolved into a very academic event and our journal is rapidly gaining traction.”

The International Journal of Spine Surgery (formerly SAS Journal) is the official scientific journal of ISASS and the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. Since its establishment in 2007, the goal of The International Journal of Spine Surgeryl is to promote and disseminate online the most up-to-date scientific and clinical research into innovations in motion preservation and new spinal surgery technology, including basic science, biologics, and tissue engineering. The IJSS is dedicated to educating spine surgeons worldwide via video and interactive technologies and by reporting on the scientific basis, indications, surgical techniques, complications, outcomes, and follow-up data for promising spinal procedures.

From an initial six-person board of directors with a staff of very few and running on a shoestring budget, ISASS has evolved into a high functioning and transparent nonprofit organization. “I’m so pleased with how it’s growing with membership, commitments, goals, financial stability, working with evidence-based medicine and working with surgeons,” says former ISASS president, Hansen Yuan, MD. Toward this goal, a second meeting is held outside the United States and Europe every other year to attract the best spine surgeons in other parts of the world and the as the Journal gains traction, ISASS is achieving a further international reach than ever before.

Short term future goals of ISASS include growing the quality of membership with the most successful spine surgeons from around the world. “In the long term, ISASS should be the body that speaks for spine surgery and not just spine care,” says Yuan. “Motion preservation is going to take time to prove that it really helps to decrease adjacent level wear and tear compared to a fusion. We hope that someday we will be able to prove that theory.”

While spine fusion may be the most widespread option for treating low back pain conditions today, in the near future, the new technologies will be available alternatives in treating spinal problems. ISASS was established on this platform and ISASS focus will be on all advances in spinal treatment with a baseline credo of promoting "the science" and not "the product".

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