This specialty is technically challenging — as a spinal surgeon, I perform roughly 150 different kinds of procedures. I enjoy thinking through each option step by step and considering what the right choice might be for each patient. A large part of my practice is working with people who have spinal tumors; it’s meaningful to be able to responsibly guide patients through this phase in their lives. Sometimes I can help people regain functioning so that they can attend important family events or simply live their daily lives with less discomfort. Sometimes the procedures I perform can buy time, making it possible for people to watch their children grow up. And sometimes cures happen. For example, with the help of a new ultrasound device my lab has been studying, I was able to pinpoint and remove a primary spinal tumor for a patient who would not otherwise have survived. Having my research and clinical practice in one place makes miracles possible.
I’m very honest with my patients. It’s important to kindly prepare people for the reality that they have to face, whatever that reality is, and I think most patients and families appreciate that level of straightforwardness. Many people also seem to value learning about the technology that we, as a field, have developed: new tools that can improve safety, ease recovery or make it possible to perform certain surgeries on patients with complex health problems.
Spinal oncology, degenerative spinal disorders
I am a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in treating patients with spinal tumors and degenerative spinal disorders. My area of expertise spans a variety of complex surgical procedures and minimally invasive techniques. I am an international expert in endoscopic spine surgery, a minimally invasive technique that is associated with reduced hospital stays and lower rates of post-surgical complications. In addition to providing care, I partner with organizations such as the AO Foundation to educate physicians about endoscopic spinal surgery. I also train residents and fellows in how to perform surgical procedures.
At the University of Washington, I lead a lab that conducts spinal cord research. Our primary focus is implementing a novel ultrasound technique that can monitor spinal blood flow in real time. This technique can make oncologic spinal surgeries safer and more thorough by showing exactly where a tumor’s blood supply is — which informs the surgical approach — and helping to differentiate between healthy and malignant tissue. Our other research projects include strategies to improve the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
University of Vienna, Austria
Weill Cornell Medicine, Neurosurgery
Mayo Clinic; University of Miami, Spine Surgery
Neurological Surgery, 2017, American Board of Neurological Surgery
PhD, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Internship, Weill Cornell Medicine
Seattle magazine's 2021 Top Doctors award
Dr. Hofstetter has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award.
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