Jan 9, 2024 First Endoscopic Spine Surgery in New Jersey Offers Patients Faster Recovery

John Shin, MD
John Shin, MD

Jersey City, N.J.John Shin, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon with RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, recently performed the state’s first unilateral biportal endoscopic (UBE) spine surgery at Jersey City Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. Dr. Shin is also on staff at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, another RWJBarnabas Health facility.

The unilateral biportal endoscopy for lumbar spine offers new possibilities for adult patients suffering from degenerative spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs and spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a vertebrae moves out of place.

Through one small incision in the lower back, the surgeon inserts a high-definition endoscope, which provides a clear, magnified view of the spine and neural elements. This magnified view helps enhance accuracy and precision as the surgeon guides surgical instruments through another small incision in the back.

Because endoscopic spine surgery requires only small incisions, surgeons are able to preserve more of the native soft tissues of the back, including muscles and ligaments, resulting in reduced blood loss, a lower risk of infection, less pain and faster recoveries for patients than with traditional open spine surgery. Patients are usually able to leave the hospital within 24 hours, compared to a longer hospital stay for patients who have traditional open spine surgery.

“Back pain and leg pain can be very debilitating and can restrict one’s ability to do everyday activities without pain and their ability to simply enjoy life,” said Dr. Shin. “Endoscopic spine surgery is a new option for more frail patients who may not be ideal candidates for traditional open spine surgery, helping relieve their pain, regain their mobility and improve their quality of life.”

The procedure was pioneered by spine surgeons in East Asia, and was introduced in the United States in 2019 but surgeons did not start using on the East Coast until 2022. Dr. Shin was trained in the procedure at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital in New York. Fluent in Korean, he also received additional training in South Korea from spine surgeons who are global leaders in using this technique. He is one of only a handful of surgeons in the Northeast to perform unilateral biportal endoscopic spine surgery.

“RWJBarnabas Health is committed to being on the forefront of orthopedic care with experienced surgeons who are leaders in their field,” said Michael Prilutsky, Executive Vice President, RWJBarnabas Health and President, Northeast Region and President and Chief Executive Officer of Jersey City Medical Center. “By providing the latest technologies and procedures such as endoscopic spine surgery, we ensure that patients never have to leave New Jersey to get the highest level of orthopedic care.”

Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at RWJBarnabas Health offers minimally invasive techniques for a range of spinal problems, including microsurgical neurological care, spinal stabilization, spinal fusion, disc arthroplasty, disc replacement, repair of herniated discs, deformity corrections, decompression of spinal tumors and repair of vertebral compression fractures. Jersey City Medical Center also recently introduced robotic spine surgery using Globus Medical ExcelsiusGPS® technology for cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral procedures of the spine.

Learn more about spine care and back pain treatment at RWJBarnabas Health.

About RWJBarnabas Health

RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering eight counties with five million people. The system includes twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital with a network of outpatient pediatric rehabilitation centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, affiliated medical groups, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is among New Jersey’s largest private employers – with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health launched an affiliation with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

About Jersey City Medical Center

Jersey City Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, is Healing, Enhancing, and Investing in Hudson County. It is a comprehensive full-service acute and sub-acute care 348-bed teaching hospital. A not-for-profit hospital, the Medical Center is a state-designated Level II Regional Trauma Center with close to 16,000 admissions and over 80,000 Emergency Department visits annually. The hospital specialty services include women’s health, orthopedics, heart and vascular care, and behavioral health. JCMC is the only full-service heart hospital in Hudson County, offering access to outstanding cardiologists and sophisticated and advanced treatments, such as cardiac surgery and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR). RWJBarnabas Health and Jersey City Medical Center are in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. JCMC is an American Heart Association Gold Plus and DNV certified Primary Stroke Center. It is a regional comprehensive cardiac center, a perinatal intensive care center, a regional level 3 neonatal intensive care unit for critically ill newborns, and home to the most advanced robotic-assisted surgical program in Hudson County. JCMC, a provider of Advanced Life Support for Hudson County, runs 911 Medical Call Screening for Hudson County and operates one of the state’s busiest EMS systems.

About RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group

RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group is a multispecialty group practice comprising of over 2,400 highly skilled and experienced world class primary and specialty care providers. Our providers offer compassionate and innovative cutting-edge care for people at every stage of life at easily accessible facilities conveniently located throughout New Jersey. RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group is ranked as the fourth largest medical group in the nation Becker’s ACS Review in 2023. Backed by the vast continuum of resources throughout RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Health, our dedicated providers and expertly trained supporting staff continuously strive for clinical and academic excellence. For more information, visit rwjbh.org/medicalgroup.

Media Contact:
Kathleen Roberts