Geographic Distribution in Training and Practice of Academic Neurological and Orthopedic Spine Surgeons in the United States

Logan Muzyka, Sangami Pugazenthi, Raj Swaroop Lavadi, Darsh Shah, Arpan Patel, Taiyeb Rangwalla, Saad Javeed, Galal Elsayed, Jacob K. Greenberg, Brenton Pennicooke, Nitin Agarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Objective: This study aimed to stratify the geographic distribution of academic spine surgeons in the United States, analyzing how this distribution highlights differences in academic, demographic, professional metrics, and gaps in access to spine care. Methods: Spine surgeons were identified using American Association of Neurological Surgeons and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons databases, categorizing into geographic regions of training and practice. Departmental websites, National Institutes of Health (NIH) RePort Expenditures and Results, Google Patent, and NIH icite databases were queried for demographic and professional metrics. Results: Academic spine surgeons (347 neurological; 314 orthopedic) are predominantly male (95%) and few have patents (23%) or NIH funding (4%). Regionally, the Northeast has the highest proportion per capita (3.28 surgeons per million), but California is the state with the highest proportion (13%). The Northeast has the greatest regional retention post-residency at 74%, followed by the Midwest (59%). The West and South are more associated with additional degrees. Neurosurgery-trained surgeons hold more additional degrees (17%) than orthopedic surgeons (8%), whereas more orthopedic surgeons hold leadership positions (34%) than neurosurgeons (20%). Conclusions: Academic spine surgeons are found at the highest proportion in the Northeast and California; the Northeast has the greatest regional retention. Spine neurosurgeons have more additional degrees, whereas spine orthopedic surgeons have more leadership positions. These results are relevant to training programs looking to correct geographic disparities, surgeons in search of training programs, or students in pursuit of spine surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e281-e288
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Geographic disparities
  • Geographic distribution of surgeons
  • Neurosurgery training
  • Orthopedic surgery training
  • Spine fellowship
  • Spine surgery


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