Neurosurgery Spine Program

Excellence in spinal care

Dr. Sean Christie

Dr. Sean Barry

Dr. Jacob Alant

Research coordinator
Lisa Julien

Team members

Dr. S. Christie, Director, Neurosurgery Spine Program
Dr. S. Barry, Neurosurgery
Dr. D. McNeely, Neurosurgery
Dr. G. Pickett, Neurosurgery
Dr. S. Walling, Neurosurgery
Nelofar Kureshi, research assistant
Maureen Kay, Spine Referral Triage
Debbie Amirault, administrative support
Melissa Cook, administrative support

Team collaborators

Dr. W. Oxner, Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. A. Glennie, Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. D. Alexander, Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. C. Short, NS Rehabilitation Centre
Dr. S. McVeigh, NS Rehabilitation Centre
Dr. M. Lynch, Pain Management Unit
Dr. I. Beauprie, Pain Management Unit
Dr. M. Schmidt, Anesthesia
Dr. S. Morris, Neurophysiology

The Neurosurgery Spine Program provides comprehensive care to patients with spinal disorders and spinal cord injuries. Our mission is to provide excellence in spinal care, education, research, and advocacy, and to continue advancing our knowledge in spine care through research, innovation, education and collaboration. For information on our new referral process, visit Neurosurgery Spine Referral Process.

Spine Program goals

  • To reduce waitlist times by developing a rapid assessment program
  • To provide highly-effective treatments in spine care through research and education
  • To develop a web-based spine referral system
  • To provide a collaborative practice model
  • To enhance quality of life for spine patients by reducing pain and increasing function and productivity

Spine Program research
Our research projects include investigator-initiated studies, as well as multi-centre national and international studies:

Gait study

The Accelerometric Gait Analysis of Cervical Myelopathy study focuses on the gait of patients with a diagnosis of cervical myelopathy before and after decompressive surgery.

Traumatic spinal cord injury

We are analyzing a retrospective review of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) in Nova Scotia spanning nearly three decades. In addition, we have completed a detailed retrospective review of aspects of SCI care over a six-year period, including timing of care, adverse events and adherence to clinical guidelines.

Spine surgeon survey

We are assessing the national spine surgeon workforce, using data from CIHI to complement a completed national survey of orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons.

Phase II international, multi-centre pharmaceutical studies

  • “MAGNIFY” is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of AC105 in patients with acute traumatic spinal cord injury. This phase II international study is examining initial data on the effects of AC105 on the recovery of sensorimotor function in patients with acute traumatic spinal cord injury.   
  • “ASCENT” is a multi-centre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study to evaluate the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of SUN13837 injection in adult subjects with acute spinal cord injury.

The Spine Program also conducts several studies in partnership with the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI):

Canadian Multi-centre Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure Monitoring and Biomarker (CAMPER) study

This national clinical trial examines spinal cord perfusion pressure (SCPP) in patients with acute SCI, as well as the effect of different vasopressor agents on SCPP. Cerebrospinal fluid samples collected as part of this study will be used to validate a series of biochemical markers correlating with injury severity and predict neurologic outcome.

Biomarkers for Crossing the Translational Divide in Acute Spinal Cord Injury project

Led by Dr. Brian Kwon’s team in Vancouver, this study was recently awarded $3 million dollars through the Brain Canada MIRI competition.

Minocycline in Acute Spinal Cord Injury (MASC) study

This phase III trial investigates the efficacy of IV minocycline in improving neurological and functional outcome after spinal cord injury.

Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry (RHSCIR)

This year marks our 7th year of enrollment in the RHSCIR, a national registry of patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Using data collected nationally by RHSCIR and previously published inclusion/exclusion criteria for spinal SCI trials, we have examined the feasibility of recruiting subjects for acute SCI clinical trials in Canada.

Access to Care and Timing (ACT) study

This study involves mapping of RHSCIR sites followed by development of a computer simulation model describing pre-hospital, acute and rehabilitation care for patients with traumatic SCI. This model will be used to test the effects of implementing various policy decisions and clinical practice guidelines.

CSS Registry

This national health data registry tracks outcome measures of the surgical and non-surgical treatment of specific spinal conditions. Our spine neurosurgeons submit information on patients who will have a cervical arthroplasty procedure, on those with lumbar spondylolisthesis who will be treated with a transforaminal lumbar-interbody fusion, and on patients who suffer from cervical myelopathy and myeloradiculopathy.