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Christopher G. Furey, MD, Serving as President of the Ohio Orthopaedic Society

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Innovations in Orthopaedics | Summer 2022

This May, the Ohio Orthopaedic Society (OOS) held its 82nd annual meeting outside Columbus, Ohio. Christopher G. Furey, MD, the current OOS president and the Henry H. Bohlman, MD Chair in Spine Surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, welcomed members of the prestigious organization, along with guest speakers Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Attorney General David Yost.

Christopher Furey, MDChristopher Furey, MD

“The Ohio Orthopaedic Society is open to all orthopaedic surgeons statewide, providing a platform for members to advance musculoskeletal care and advocate on behalf of the orthopaedic community and our patients,” says Dr. Furey. “The Society has a rich history of continual education and improvement in care delivery.”

Along with OOS Presidential Advisory Council Member John Sontich, MD, Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma at University Hospitals, and Executive Board Member Wayne Cohen-Levy, MD, Dr. Furey is continuing University Hospital’s storied legacy  of leadership in orthopaedic medicine on a statewide level.

Composed of more than 400 surgeons, OOS and its members monitor legislative and regulatory activity and testify before the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate on issues related to the state’s practice of orthopaedic medicine. Highlights of this year’s discussions included innovations in treatment, the effects of COVID-19 and the continuing need to safeguard prescription medications.

Over the past two years, members have partnered with the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance and insurance companies to spearhead a pilot project that provides in-home opioid disposal kits. Patients can place unused medications into pouches of activated charcoal before safely disposing of them with their regular trash.

“Particularly after surgical procedures, patient access to appropriate and safe pain management is a significant component of musculoskeletal care,” says Dr. Furey. “Our ongoing work to make these disposal kits available is another important step in stemming the challenge of opioid abuse.”

Henry H. Bohlman MD, Chair, in Spine Surgery

As the Henry H. Bohlman, MD, Chair, Dr. Furey had the unique opportunity of working alongside the pre-eminent spine surgeon for over a decade. Having attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Furey was familiar with Dr. Bohlman’s work when he returned to Cleveland in 2000 after completing a fellowship at Duke University Medical Center.

“Dr. Bohlman pioneered many techniques that have become standard in orthopaedic surgery, including using an anterior approach to access the neck and thoracic spine,” says Dr. Furey. “In addition to being an incredible clinician and surgeon, he is responsible for the genesis of postgraduate spine education.”

Dr. Furey adds that spinal fellowships were unheard of in the 1970s when Dr. Bohlman created opportunities for the advanced training. Through his groundbreaking work, Dr. Bohlman went on to mentor many noteworthy national and international leaders in spine surgery.

In 2008, grateful proteges and patients helped endow the $2.2 million chair that bears his name, ensuring his legacy will continue for future generations. “As University Hospitals continues to utilize time-honored and tested principles of spine surgery to care for increasingly complex patients, we’re also able to leverage endowment funds to carry on Dr. Bohlman’s commitment to academic medicine,” says Dr. Furey.

With a specialization in cervical myelopathy and adult lumbar reconstruction, he is a worthy successor to Dr. Bohlman.

“Dr. Furey truly embodies the mission of an academic spine surgeon,” says James E. Voos, MD, Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at University Hospitals. “In addition to his dedication to clinical practice, he is active in research and a pillar of our orthopaedic residency training program.”

Dr. Furey is quick to share credit for University Hospital’s internationally lauded Department of Orthopedics, calling attention to Zachary Gordon, MD, Co-Director of the UH Spine Institute, Nicholas Ahn, MD, Director of the UH Spine Fellowship Program, and Christina Cheng, MD, Co-Coordinator of orthopaedic clinical research.

Orthopaedic research at UH

Thanks to generous funding from Michael and Grace Drusinsky, a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine student serves as a full-time clinical research fellow, typically after their third year. Additionally, several other part-time medical students participate in ongoing clinical and basic science research.

“This is something that we have really focused on over the past decade, and we have been very productive,” says Dr. Furey. “In the past two years, we were able to publish over 15 peer-reviewed publications and have had numerous national and international presentations by our medical students. It is gratifying to engage participants in research opportunities so early in their careers.”

Three ongoing research projects are:

  • A longitudinal registry following outcomes of spinal surgery patients that has been growing for more than a decade
  • Published results of older patients suffering cervical myopathy. “Looking at patients ages 80 and over, many are aging relatively healthily, but a concerning problem is severe pressure on the spinal cord that can render individuals unable to walk or maintain arm or leg function,” says Dr. Furey. “The question has been whether these patients were suitable candidates for complex spinal cord surgery to correct the myopathy.” Results showed that despite longer hospital stays, older patients benefitted from outcomes similar to their younger counterparts post-surgery.
  • Dovetailing off the cervical myopathy study, fourth-year medical student Blake Boehm followed over 60 elderly patients who had surgery and determined that the vast majority regained the ability to walk. “Blake’s study confirmed that if patients are suitable medical candidates, surgery has a good chance of literally getting them back on their feet,” says Dr. Furey.

To learn more, contact Dr. Furey at Christopher.Furey@UHhospitals.org.

Contributing Experts:
Christopher G. Furey, MD
Chief, University Hospitals Spine Institute
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Henry H. Bohlman, MD Chair in Spine Surgery
UH Cleveland Medical Center
Professor
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

James E. Voos, MD
Chair, Department of Orthopaedics 
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Jack and Mary Herrick Distinguished Chair Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
Charles H. Herndon Professorship and Chair
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Head Team Physician, Cleveland Browns
Medical Director, Cleveland Ballet

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