Welcome to the NASS 2019 News page.

Between now and September, check back here for relevant articles and information on the 34th Annual Meeting in Chicago. Learn about guest speakers, Best Papers, podium presentations and more.

Read about meeting happenings and get a head start on planning your trip to Chicago.


Fish and Mroz

Premier Meeting in Spine Care Comes to Chicago in September

NASS 2019 Rolls Out New Format and Features Top Spine Faculty

The leading minds in spine care will unite at NASS 2019 from September 25-28 in Chicago for a congregation of the most relevant new research and idea sharing in the industry. A record number of 1,434 abstracts were submitted this year, from which were selected the top 322 scientific podium presentations, 156 ePosters, 56 symposia presentations and 21 Best Papers.

“This year's NASS Annual Meeting is much different from other meetings and even from previous Annual Meetings,” said Thomas E. Mroz, MD, Director of the Center for Spine Health & Spine Research at Cleveland Clinic, and one of five NASS 2019 meeting co-chairs. “We have invited the best and most prestigious surgical content experts to lead the meeting in cutting edge symposia and cadaver courses. We wanted to engage the NASS members in unique ways and offer them the absolute best content.”

Co-chair and UCLA PM&R specialist, David Fish, MD, MPH, offers an additional viewpoint on the upcoming meeting.

“The cooperation between the Spine Intervention Society (SIS) and NASS,” is what Dr. Fish says he is most excited about. “SIS for the first time is presenting a comprehensive approach to interventional spine injections that has never been done at a NASS meeting. There are also directors of the World Institute of Pain presenting on spinal cord stimulators for treatment of spine pain.”

Which is to say there is something for everyone at NASS 2019.

A new addition to this year’s meeting which is already generating buzz, are the five Surgical Technique Cadaver Demonstrations that will take place in the general session room on Friday, September 27. The courses will be led by some of the top spine surgeons in the country, including Michael Y. Wang, MD (Endoscopic Spine Surgery), John C. Liu, MD (MIS Tubular Decompression), Juan S. Uribe, MD (Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion), K. Daniel Riew, MD (Cervicothoracic Osteotomy for Cervical Kyphosis) and Lawrence G. Lenke, MD (Spinal Deformity Correction).

“This will be the best NASS meeting in its history,” said Dr. Mroz. “We strove to include the most relevant content given by the experts.”

Dr. Mroz added: “The focus this year is on surgical technologies, emerging therapies and the economic and artificial intelligence era that will change how we all practice medicine. With this meeting, we hope to really engage the spine community and push it forward to the future.”

Along with Drs. Mroz and Fish, NASS 2019 is co-chaired by Allen S. Chen, MD, MPH; Patrick C. Hsieh, MD, MS; and Sanjog Pangarkar, MD.

Christian Gansch

World Renowned Musical Conductor Christian Gansch to Speak at NASS 2019

Based in Europe but known worldwide, Christian Gansch is a highly regarded musical conductor, producer and consultant. He is a Grammy winner, author, and spent a decade as leader of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gansch will deliver the Presidential Guest Address at NASS 2019 in Chicago on Thursday, September 26th. He intends to speak on the parallels between organizing the moving parts of an orchestra and a physician handling the myriad of tasks in his or her daily routine.

“For doctors, what counts?” Gansch asked. “They need a perfect interplay of competences for an optimum result. We need an interplay of instruments for first-class performance. The strategies behind the scenes are so complex and complicated, which I think would be a surprise to our audience. Craftsmanship, precision and discipline are the key to create a perfect product.”

As an example, Gansch said the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has 140 musicians from 27 different countries. Getting them all on the same page, playing all the right notes at just the right time is no easy task, of course. Physicians, with the mounting responsibilities of quality patient care, administrative & reimbursement requirements, long hours, possibly running your own practice and more can likely relate.

“I talk about how is it possible that so many individuals with different skills and competences are able to create a perfect product,” Gansch asked. “How is it possible that they create unity? This is the point. One of the key topics is the triad of orchestral excellence which is to listen to each other, act together and learn from each other.”

Gansch added: “Many people who like to go to concerts have the feeling that it’s a natural unity and it’s not. You need clear procedures, clear strategies and the consciousness that everyone has to be a source to develop the success of the whole organization or whole orchestra. And this metaphor is relevant to physicians and health care teams as well.”

NASS 2019 Presidential Guest Speaker: Christian Gansch

Thursday, September 26, 2019, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
McCormick Place West, Chicago, IL, USA

Best Papers

Best Paper Sessions Feature NASS 2019 Highest Rated Abstracts

The NASS 2019 Scientific Program Committee received more than 1,400 abstract and session proposal submissions. The 21 highest-rated abstracts earned the coveted “Best Paper” designation and will be presented in morning sessions throughout the meeting in Chicago.

We asked these Best Paper authors to preview some of the takeaways they’ll present at NASS 2019 in Chicago. The following Q&As highlight the Best Papers to be presented on Wednesday, September 25 from 9-10 am. Previews of the Thursday and Friday Best Papers will be featured in the July and August e-preview editions of the NASS Daily News, respectively.

Cadaver Demonstrations

Top Surgeons Present a Full Day of Cadaver Demonstrations

Fear not, NASS 2019 will still feature some of your favorite events from meetings past. But this year’s meeting in Chicago has a new wrinkle and it’s an exciting one.

For the first time, the meeting will devote an entire day to Surgical Technique Cadaver Demonstrations by some of the world’s top spine surgeons demonstrating their techniques from a bioskills lab in the general session room. The physicians will also be available afterward for a Q&A session. (See below for the day’s full schedule.)

The five sessions will take place on Friday, September 27.

“I am so excited that we are adding surgical demonstrations by the leading spine surgeons in the world,” said Jeffrey C. Wang, NASS President. “Attendees will be able to see master spine surgeons perform procedures, with the ability to interact with them, and ask questions as they are performing the demonstrations. This is truly a novel and unique learning experience.”

The session topics and faculty include:

  • Endoscopic Spine Surgery, instructed by Michael Y. Wang, MD
  • MIS Tubular Decompression, instructed by John C. Liu, MD
  • Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion, instructed by Juan S. Uribe, MD
  • Cervicothoracic Osteotomy for Cervical Kyphosis, instructed by K. Daniel Riew, MD
  • Spinal Deformity Correction, instructed by Lawrence G. Lenke, MD

Upon completion of this session, participants should gain strategies to:

  • Incorporate the latest techniques in complex spine surgery into their practice;
  • Identify the nuances, advantages, and limitation of endoscopy and minimally invasive spine surgery;
  • Determine concepts and principles of spinal deformity surgery as well as the technical considerations and surgical strategies to treat adult spinal deformity.

Faculty Present a Wide Range of Surgical, Non-Surgical Symposia

NASS 2019 is committed to offering something for everyone this fall in Chicago. To prove it, we have concurrent surgical and non-surgical offerings every session. Below are the symposia on Wednesday, September 25.

Wednesday, September 25
7:30-8:55 am
Surgical Symposium: The Read Deal of the Opioid Crisis
Medical Symposium: Clinical Management of Spinal Cord Injury: Current Literature and Experience

9-10 am
Surgical Symposium: Endoscopic Spine Surgery: New Techniques and Outcomes
Integrated Symposium: Surgical Treatment of Low Back Pain: Evidence, Controversy and Debate

10:35 am-12 pm
Surgical Symposium: Predictive Analysis and Data Utilization to Improve Patient Assessment and Outcomes in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery
Integrated Symposium: Leadership Perspective: Identifying and Managing Physician Burnout in Today’s Health Care Environment
Resident/Fellow Education Pathway: Transition to Practice I: Landing a Job

1-2 pm
Medical Symposium: Ambulatory Surgical Centers: Is This the Next Big Thing?

Gift Cards

Win 1 of 34 Gift Cards in Chicago!

Want access to meeting-only specials including entry into winning 1 of 34 Gift Cards?

To enter, simply text NASS to 33222 to be registered for your chance to win!*

*By entering this drawing through text, you agree to receive automated text messages from NASS (no more than 10 during the week of the NASS Annual Meetings, and no more than 1 per month following the meeting) regarding special offers and NASS membership. Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to end. Entry via text is limited to United States phone numbers only and is not required for participation in the gift card drawing. For further options to enter, stop by the Member Concierge booth before Friday at 12 PM CST. Offer available to attendees of the 2019 NASS Annual Meeting. Winners will be chosen twice daily and will be notified via email. Prizes are non-transferable and must be picked up at the Member Concierge booth by Friday at 3 PM CST.


THursday Best Papers

Don’t Miss Thursday’s Best Papers

We asked these Best Paper authors to preview some of the take-aways they’ll present at NASS 2019 in Chicago. The following Q&As highlight the Best Papers to be presented on Thursday, September 26 from 9-10 am Previews of the Friday Best Papers will be featured in the August e-preview edition of the NASS Daily News.

The NASS 2019 Scientific Program Committee received more than 1,400 abstract and session proposal submissions. The 21 highest-rated abstracts earned the coveted “Best Paper” designation and will be presented in morning sessions throughout the meeting in Chicago.

David Axelrod

Famed Political Operative David Axelrod to Speak
at NASS 2019

In the political arena, David Axelrod has practically seen it all.

From serving as chief strategist to former President Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns to running numerous other campaigns across the country, Axelrod has spent his life behind the political curtain. While he’s best known for serving as chief strategist on former President Barack Obama’s two successful national campaigns, Axelrod spent his life behind the political curtain, running campaigns for candidates around North America. The 64-year-old will bring that wealth of knowledge to NASS 2019, where he will address attendees on Friday, September 27, in Chicago as the Advocacy Guest Speaker.

“I’m sure I will be sharing some of the lessons that I learned and experiences I had during the fight for the Affordable Care Act,” Axelrod said, “as well as drawing on some of my own experiences as the parent of a child with epilepsy. We struggled with her chronic illness throughout her childhood and so I experienced the shortcomings of our insurance system firsthand. These two things are obviously interwoven because I had the conflict when I was advising the President of worrying about the political cost of taking on the issue of health care. But as a father I experienced the financial pressures of a porous system.”

These days, Axelrod is founder and director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, hosts The Axe Files podcast and is a CNN political commentator. Following Obama’s reelection in 2012, Axelrod decided it was time to exit the day-to-day political trenches.

“Like any old racehorse, I respond to the bell,” he said. “But I made a very conscience decision after the 2012 campaign that I’d had this extraordinary run, this great experience, with a candidate who was not only my boss, but my friend. We had been on a long and incredible journey together. And I would never really be able to replicate that.”

With the 2020 Presidential election looming, Axelrod believes health care will play a major role for candidates. While other issues have taken front stage in the never-ending news cycle, the veteran political operative says health care will continue to be vital to many.

“It’s not being forgotten by those who are paying the bills. And it’s not being forgotten by those who don’t have insurance,” Axelrod said of health care. “I think it is primary for some. Obviously, Trump casts a large shadow over the election. Part of that shadow includes his continuing effort to demolish the ACA and a promise so far unfilled to find a viable substitute for it. It may not be the defining issue of every day of the campaign, but it’s the issue that cost the Republicans control of the United States Congress [in 2018] and I expect that it’s going to be important in 2020.”

Guest Speaker: David Axelrod

Friday, September 27, 2019, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
McCormick Place West, Chicago, IL, USA

Technical Exhibition

Technical Exhibition Offers Latest in Spine Technology

More to see. More to do. More to learn. The Exhibition is more than just a trade show. It is an interactive learning experience.

Touch the latest products and try procedures on actual specimens in the Surgical Innovation Labs. Take part in one of the 36 different surgical demonstrations, workshops and courses. Want to continue your learning after the meeting ends for the day? Come to one of the NASS After Hours Workshops.

Focusing on SI-Joint and Robotics & Navigation, these non-CME hands-on workshops get you hands-on experience with the leading companies’ equipment with an opportunity to compare.

Hear from key opinion leaders on products and procedures to improve your outcomes and practices in the Solution Showcase. Network with your colleagues in the lounge.

See the cutting edge products from our 350 exhibitors and speak with the actual engineers and researchers who develop them.

ePosters—Breaking Out of the Box
Using a new hybrid system, ePosters will have a physical and virtual presence. Mini poster walls will give attendees a throwback to the traditional poster hall and its traditional networking, but add the interactivity and functionality of modern technology. Using a phone or tablet through the NASS 2019 mobile app with the mini posters will allow for interaction via social media. Attendees are able to post directly to the ePoster and have discussions with both the author and others viewing the ePoster.


Day Open Close
Wednesday, September 25 9 am 5 pm
Thursday, September 26 9 am 5 pm
Friday, September 27 9 am 1:30 pm
Saturday, September 28 Closed Closed

Hands-on Courses

Hands-on Courses, Coding Update Available at NASS 2019

Coding Update 2019: Mastering the Coding Maze
During this highly interactive course, physician faculty who lead NASS’ CPT and RUC will address ICD-10, E&M coding and CPT4 coding of surgical, medical and radiologic procedures. Attendees will leave this course with the necessary knowledge and critical tips on how to navigate through the authorization and denial process, identify nuances that affect proper billing and cause rejected/delayed claims, utilize Medicare NCCI edits, and properly document to receive reimbursement.

Monday-Tuesday, September 23-24, 8 am - 5 pm
NOTE:This is a pre-course offering.

Minimally Invasive Spine Procedures

Developed by the Section on Minimally Invasive Procedures
Faculty will provide a targeted focus on current minimally invasive spine techniques, including percutaneous instrumentation, lateral, navigation, robotic and endoscopy techniques. Attendees will practice guided hands-on cadaver procedures. Space will be limited to maximize hands-on time. Physicians only.

Wednesday, September 25, 7 am – 12 pm
Note: Attendees will be required to watch recorded lectures online prior to the course.

Endoscopic Spinal Surgery Symposium & Cadaver Workshop

Cosponsored with Korean Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Society
Faculty will address the recent evolution of endoscopic spinal surgery, examine novel advances in the field of endoscopic optics and miniaturized surgical tools, and access the potential of replacing the conventional ‘open’ surgery using a microscope. Clinical scenarios will illustrate solutions using spinal endoscopy, including surgical tips and pearls on these emerging percutaneous procedures. The cadaver workshop will follow the didactic lectures.

Wednesday, September 25, 8 am – 5 pm

Lumbar Spinal Injections

Experienced faculty will address patient selection and technique for lumbar epidural steroid injections, lumbar medial branch blocks and sacroiliac joint injections. Additionally, attendees will learn about anatomic fluoroscopic structural correlations with various lumbar injection procedures during this didactic and hands-on cadaver training. Residents and fellows are highly encouraged to attend.

Friday, September 27, 8 am – 1 pm
Note: Attendees will receive didactic lectures prior to the course.

NOTE: All of the above courses have an additional fee.


Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credit

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essentials and Standards of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The North American Spine Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians and takes responsibility for the content, quality and scientific integrity of this CME activity.

The North American Spine Society designates this live activity for a maximum of 24 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The American Medical Association has determined that physicians not licensed in the U.S. to participate in this CME activity are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

Additional credit is available by attending the following courses:

  • Coding Update 2019: Mastering the Coding Maze
  • Hands-On Course: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Hands-On Course: Endoscopic Spine Surgery Symposium and Cadaver Workshop Co-sponsored with KOMISS
  • Hands-On Course: Lumbar Spinal Injections

How to Claim your CME
On Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon, all attendees will receive an email directing them to to report session attendance each day. You will not be able to submit answers or print a certificate until the meeting has concluded on Saturday, September 28 at noon.