Nationally recognized spine care

Choosing who will perform your child’s complex spine surgery is a huge decision. Our experts will help make that decision easier.

We care for children with the most challenging spine conditions through our Pediatric Complex Spine Clinic. Our team has been doing robotic assisted spine surgeries longer than anyone else in Wisconsin. This minimally invasive procedure shortens recovery time and results in less discomfort for your child.

Spine specialists from pediatric neurosurgery and orthopedics work together to provide your child’s care. We also offer education and resources for parents and caregivers.

Conditions and treatments

Care for any need

Spine conditions that may be considered complex include:

  • Scoliosis

  • Spondylolisthesis

  • Kyphosis

  • Cervical spine

  • Spina bifida

  • Spinal tumors

  • Spinal trauma

  • Spinal infection

  • Congenital spine syndromes

  • Achondroplasia

  • Down syndrome

  • Marfan spine

  • Morquio syndrome

We develop a treatment plan for every child that’s just right for them. Treatments we offer include:

  • Orthotics

  • Spinal rehabilitation

  • Spine injections

  • Spine physical therapy

  • Spine surgery

Specific procedures we perform include:

  • Robot-assisted pediatric spine surgery

  • Spinal deformity (scoliosis, kyphosis) correction

  • Tethered cord release

  • Surgery for spondylolisthesis

  • Complex and revision spinal surgery

  • CT-guided spine surgery

  • Treatment of spinal tumors

  • Foraminotomy (cervical and lumbar)

  • Microdiscectomy

  • Minimally invasive spine surgery and minimally invasive spinal fusion

  • Spinal fusion

  • Spinal stenosis operations (laminectomy, laminoplasty, minimally invasive decompressions)

  • Stabilization of spinal trauma using minimally invasive techniques

  • Spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain

Pediatric patients with spinal pathologies that warrant spinal fusion surgery now have a state-of-the-art minimally invasive option: robot-assisted spine surgery. At the UW Health American Family Children’s Hospital—the first hospital in Wisconsin to offer the Mazor X Stealth Edition robotic guidance platform—we plan and perform spinal fusion with the utmost precision and efficiency. Patients experience shorter recovery, less pain and a quicker path to normal activity.

Patient stories

Young patients find great success

Many times when we treat children, their lives dramatically improve. Here are some of their stories.

Kiara's story

Total spinal fusion gave Kiara new height and a new lease on life

Severe scoliosis left Kiara sidelined. She found help at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., one of just a few places in the country that could treat her condition.

Watch Kiara's story

Spine surgery put Jacob back in the game

Jacob is an athlete who loves being active. But doctors discovered a problem in his neck that left him one collision away from grave danger. Thanks to the teamwork of UW Health Kids doctors, he’s now back in the game.

Zach Yosick smiling outside.
Zach Yosick
"The technology made a huge difference in Zach’s outcome.”

Zach Yosick was 17 when he began to experience intense episodes of shaking in his legs – a condition called clonus that is linked to his cerebral palsy. There were times when Zach was shaking so much, he could barely hang on to his chair. At the same time, he was experiencing increasing pain in the lower-to-middle part of his back.


Answers to common questions

Many spine problems can be treated non-surgically. Options may include physical therapy, medication, or home exercises.

Complex spine surgery usually involves scoliosis treatment, revision to prior back or neck surgery or surgery that spans more than two of the three spine levels: neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar). It can also be categorized as surgery that involves six or more vertebrae in the spine or that requires six or more hours of surgery.

No, our pediatric complex spine surgeons have completed advanced training in minimally invasive techniques and complex spine procedures, as well as being fellowship trained and board certified in their fields. We offer a level of care to patients that only comes with experience and a passion for continued learning. Our goal is to provide the best outcome for your child by incorporating the newest technologies and techniques into our care and treatment plan. We often collaborate on complex spine deformities, helping to build a more comprehensive preoperative plan and at times acting as co-surgeons to minimize operative time and blood loss.

A good spine surgeon’s priority is your child. They should be dedicated to excellent care and successful outcomes. Our surgeons never stop learning new techniques and attend conferences and publish papers to continue furthering their field. Our surgeons will be with your family throughout the process and communicate each step of treatment and answer any questions you may have. We will provide a personalized plan that fits your child’s needs and will provide a happy and healthy future.

Yes, a second opinion from a UW Health pediatric spine surgeon gives you valuable information you can use to make decisions about your care. Through a second opinion, you may also learn about new treatment options.

Getting an early understanding of your child’s diagnosis and options for management is always helpful, and in some cases, there are non-surgical treatments that may be more effective if started earlier. We always encourage evaluation if there is a concern. Symptoms that should be evaluated promptly include significant pain, progressive curvature of the spine, and neurologic concerns such as weakness, sensory loss, or changes in function when going to the bathroom.

Our surgeons are trained in the full range of options, including minimally invasive spine surgery, and when surgery is considered, we always want to find the least invasive option that will be successful in treating your child. There are several complex spine conditions that we routinely treat using minimally invasive surgery, but each patient’s plan is customized to the specific concern and we will discuss these options with you.

Meet our team

Experts who care


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