The Spine Surgery Service in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Augusta University
Health is committed to providing state of the art spine care to our patients. Whether
your spine issues are caused by 1) degenerative changes from aging and arthritis,
2) overuse syndromes from repetitive movements, or 3) trauma from an injury – we want
to help patients of any age overcome their discomfort and improve their quality of
The spine team takes pride in working with you to solve your spine and orthopaedic
problems using the most up to date and advanced treatment modalities, up to and including
surgery. We have a complete spine team capable of taking care of the complete spectrum
of spinal needs. Our team members include:
- Uzondu Agochukwu, MD, is an Associate Professor, is a board-certified, Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon, Director
of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, and Co-Director of the Augusta University Spine
- John DeVine, MD, is a Professor, is board-certified Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon, Chief of the Spine
Surgery Service at Augusta University Health, and Co-Director of the Augusta University
- Mr. Nathan Boykin and Mr. Charles Wispert are Physician Assistants (PAs) who have a combined 40 years of experience evaluating
and treating patients with neck and back pain.
- Sara Lepley RN is our Spine Surgery Service nurse. She is instrumental in coordinating care for
our patients, helping maximize the benefits of both non-operative and operative care.
- Dr. Agochukwu and Dr. DeVine offer care for pathologies affecting the spine from the occiput to the pelvis including
deformity, trauma, tumors, infection, degenerative changes, and herniations. When
surgery is indicated, they utilize the most up to date techniques to include minimally
invasive surgery and navigation, with the goal of optimizing patient outcomes. They
offer those treatments to patients of all ages, including pediatric patients.
Conditions We Treat
Our collective goal is to individualize the care required based on the needs of the
patient. From the simplest “back sprain” to the most complex scoliosis deformity,
our team will provide the care that results in the best possible outcome. The more
common conditions referred to us for evaluation and treatment include the following:
- Lumbar radiculopathy – compression or inflammation to a nerve in the low back causing pain, numbness and
tingling, or weakness that can extend into the foot
- Herniated disc – occurs when a portion of a vertebral disc extrudes from the normal disc space causing
neck or back pain and irritation to surrounding nerve roots
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spinal canal compressing the nerves throughout the low back area
resulting in back pain and difficulty walking.
- Cervical radiculopathy – compression or inflammation to a nerve in the cervical region (neck) causing pain,
numbness and tingling, or weakness that can extend into the fingers
- Cervical myelopathy – degenerative condition caused by narrowing of the spinal canal compressing the
spinal cord resulting in loss of balance and difficult with fine motor skills (hand
writing, buttoning buttons)
- Spinal neoplasms – tumors can be located throughout the spine causing multiple symptoms (pain, burning,
fever, neurologic changes) that often require multi-modal therapy (including care
from a hematologist oncologist, radiation oncologist, orthopaedic oncologist) all
available at Augusta University Health
- Adult deformity – can be congenital, adolescent, or adult in onset. Associated with loss of normal
contours of the spine, loss of normal alignment, and may be associated with neurologic
- Failed back surgery syndrome – persistent back and/or extremity pain after already having had previous spine surgery.
Diagnostic Tests and Procedures
- Spinal Stimulation Treatment for Pain Management is a pulsed stimulation of the nervous system and can be an effective solution to
pain management. A spinal cord stimulator (cervical and thoracolumbar epidural spinal
stimulators) can be used to help control chronic pain. New research supports the cost
effectiveness, safety and clinical value of spinal stimulators when compared to patients
undergoing reoperation for failed spinal surgery.
- Complex Spine Surgery is sometimes the only option for many to achieve pain relief and improved levels of
functioning. No surgery has a 100% success rate or 0% risk of complications. Your
complex spine specialist will discuss your particular case with you, including reasonable
expectations for success and possible complications.
- Acute Spine Pain Management offers comprehensive surgical management of drug resistant pain problems, including
cancer pain and pain of other origins. Chronic pain patients who have failed comprehensive
non-surgical pain management may be candidates for surgical alleviation of pain.