Untitled Page



On June 8, 2015, the University Of Toronto Department Of Surgery Spine Program celebrated its 7th annual SpineFEST™ meeting. SpineFEST™ is the key annual academic meeting for the U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program. Bringing together clinicians and scientists around the city’s university affiliated hospitals, this event aims to foster collaboration within the spine community locally and also serves as a venue to disseminate our activities to invited professors nationally and internationally.

glass window

Keynote Speaker: Professoer Wilco Peul – Leiden, The Netherlands presenting his morning talk

Co-led by Albert Yee and Michael Fehlings, we held several thematic sessions on clinical outcomes in spine surgery, advances in surgical education, and spine trainee research presentations. Our keynote Tator-Hall Visiting Professorship Lecture was presented by Professor Wilco Peul (Chair of Neurosurgery, Leiden University, The Hague & Leiden - The Netherlands). He provided a dynamic talk emphasizing the importance of critically evaluating outcomes following spine surgery, studying and understanding and variation in clinical practice including considering appropriateness of care delivery. He also led important discussions on the added value of spine surgery and its societal impact. Following his keynote presentation, our program also welcomed our new U of T Spine Program faculty member Dr. Meaghan O’Reilly, who was recently recruited as a Scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute. She provided an update to the group on her research area of interest focused ultrasound therapy targeting the spine.

glass window

SpineFEST 2015 logo

During our morning session of clinical outcomes, Raj Rampersaud (University Health Network - Toronto Western Hospital) presented an update on his research studying the long-term outcomes of surgical treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis. Henry Ahn (St. Michael’s Hospital) engaged us in an important dialogue about Randomized Controlled Trials and the adoption of new technology into clinical practice. Carlo Ammendolia (Mount Sinai Hospital) provided an update on interesting observations he has found in conducting clinical trials on lumbar degenerative neurogenic claudication. Michael Fehlings (University Health Network - Toronto Western Hospital) concluded the session as he introduced the results of an international, multi-centre AOSpine study on outcomes of surgical treatment for cervical spondylolytic myelopathy.

Peter Ferguson (Chair, U of T Division of Orthopaedic Surgery) led off our education session focusing on his experience enacting fundamental change in Postgraduate Surgical Training (Competency-Based-Curriculum in Orthopaedic Surgery). Stephen Lewis (University Health Network - Toronto Western Hospital and Hospital for Sick Children) illustrated his experience in training spine fellows at the University of Toronto. Albert Yee (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) ended the session with a talk on defining the Spine Surgeon in 2015 which highlighted the newly developed Canadian Spine Society curriculum on spine surgery fellowship education.

Our afternoon academic session featured trainee research presentations - clinical and preclinical. Two of the U of T Spine Program city-wide spine fellows presented their research. Jeremie Larouche (Supervisor: Albert Yee) and Spyridon Karadimas (Supervisor: Michael Fehlings) presented consecutively on development of Canadian competency-based spine surgery fellowship education curricula, and studies on characterizing a novel Locomotor Central Pattern Generator in Spinal Cord Injury.

This year, the U of T Spine Program received 40 abstract submissions. Winners of 1st place abstract, 2nd place abstract, and 3rd place abstract provided a podium presentation of their research findings. Michael Hardisty (Research Engineer, Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: Supervisor: Cari Whyne) presented research on evaluating “Pathologic vertebral fracture severity: Semi automated quantitative CT based assessment”. Anthony Bateman (clinical spine fellow, Supervisor: Albert Yee) presented “Closure of the intervertebral disc annulus fibrosus using a novel suture application device – in vivo porcine and ex-vivo biomechanical evaluation”. Lindsay Tetreault (graduate student at U of T Institute of Medial Sciences, Supervisor: Michael Fehlings) discussed research on defining “The minimal clinically important difference of the modified Japanese orthopaedic association scale in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy”. Jared Wilcox (MD/PhD U of T trainee, Supervisor: Michael Fehlings) presented an update on “Neural stem cells promote multimodal recovery in a severe bilateral model of cervical spinal cord injury through myelination and not direct synaptic connectivity”, and Allan Martin (Neurosurgery resident, Supervisor: Michael Fehlings) presented interesting imaging work on “Next-generation MRI of the human spinal cord: methods of a longitudinal translational study to develop quantitative imaging biomarkers in cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM)”. Finally, Jonathan Lu, on behalf of Rahul Gawri (Post-Doc trainee, Supervisor: Rita Kandel), presented tissue engineering research on “Enhancing nucleus pulposus tissue formation in-vitro: A novel approach”.

glass window

This year, SpineFEST™ went ecofriendly and our day’s program was framed around electronic poster presentation sessions. First Prize Oral Poster Presentation was awarded to Laureen Hachem (MD Candidate, Supervisor: Charles Tator) for her presentation entitled “Effect of clinically relevant cell survival factors for spinal cord injury in models of In vitro oxidative stress on adult spinal cord–derived neural stem/progenitor cells ”, So Kato (Pediatric orthopaedic spine fellow, Supervisor: Reinhard Zeller) won the second Prize Poster Presentation award for his presentation entitled “Postoperative improvement of apical vertebral rotation in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: 3-dimensional reconstruction analysis by EOS imaging”.


SpineFEST bringing together clinicians and scientists around the city’s University affiliated hospitals

SpineFEST™ ended with an enjoyable Monday evening event -- the U of T/ Greater Toronto Area GTA Spine Rounds (organized by Joel Finkelstien, Orthopedic Surgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre). The U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program celebrated the spine surgeons graduating as part of our City-Wide Clinical Spine Fellows Program, individuals who completed their fellowship training during the academic year 2014/2015.

The U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program congratulates the following surgeons on their successful completion of Clinical Spine fellowship in Toronto:

Tony Bateman, Jeremie Larouche, and Sirajeddin Belkhair supervised by Michael Ford, Albert Yee, Joel Finkelstein, and Henry Ahn. We also congratulate David Pinilla supervised by Howard Ginsberg.

Pediatric Spine Fellow: So Kato supervised by Reinhard Zeller, and Stephen Lewis.

Simon Harris, Clifford Lin, Carlo Santaguida, Chandan Mohanty, and Roy Chaudhary supervised by Michael Fehlings, Eric Massicotte, Stephen Lewis, Raj Rampersaud, and Mohammed Shamji.

Congratulations to our alumni and best of wishes to all our fellows in their career and future endeavors.

Special thanks to our visiting Keynote speaker Professor Wilco Peul who, in addition to his morning SpineFEST keynote address also provided a memorable evening talk at the U of T/ GTA Spine Rounds. The evening talk was more philosophical and personal in-nature. Professor Peul engaged the group in an interesting dialogue on ”The ambiguous life of a spine surgeon & epidemiologist” presenting thoughts ranging from challenging cranio-cervical surgery to hard evidence- based medicine in a political and academic environment. Professor Peul shared with the group photos of his happy family, his wife and their three children who live in the beautiful area of Hague-Leiden. Many thanks to Professor Peul for contributing towards the success of our year end academic festivities!


left to right- Michael Fehlings, Peter Ferguson, and Albert Yee

The U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program would like to thank our participants for contributing towards the ongoing success of SpineFEST. We extend our appreciation to Professors Charles Tator, Hamilton Hall, Andres Lozano, Peter Ferguson, and James Rutka for their strong support of SpineFEST™ and the U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program over the years. The U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program also extend gratitude to our educational event sponsors Stryker, Medtronic, Zimmer, DePuy Synthes, and Ethicon.

SpineFEST™ next year will be held on Monday June 13, 2016 at MaRS, 101 College St. Toronto. For further details of the U of T Department of Surgery Spine Program, please visit our program website at http://surgery.utoronto.ca/programs/spine.htm and follow on twitter at https://twitter.com/uoftspine

Nadia Jaber with input from Drs Albert Yee and Michael Fehlings

Skip Navigation Links