Christopher Wagener, MD
Department Chair Orthopedic Spine Surgery, Vice Chief of Staff
"Helping Those Who Think They Can't Be Helped..."
Back pain can keep people from doing the things they love, but it doesn't have to. " Many patients mistakenly believe that spine surgery does not work or that they will be worse after a procedure. New techniques, technology, and diagnostic studies have improved results and returned patients back to their lives," says Dr. Wagener.
Dr. Christopher Wagener, M.D. is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine where he graduated with honors. He performed his orthopedic surgery training also at Georgetown University Hospital before completing a Spine Surgery Fellowship at the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His elite training and practice experience has made him one of the nation’s premier surgeons and an expert in spine surgery.
He has performed thousands of procedures on the neck and back helping patients live better lives. His professional interests are in minimally invasive and alternative spine surgery procedures and he is considered an expert and innovator in the field. He has been on the development team of multiple FDA approved minimally invasive surgical implants, an international speaker/expert, author and instructor on minimally invasive surgical techniques. He was elected and supported by his peers to be part of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery(SMISS) which, at the time of his inclusion, was limited to less than 200 surgeons worldwide who have demonstrated a commitment and mastery to this emerging technique.
His reputation and results have made him one of the busiest spine surgeons around performing over 350 surgeries per year. His expertise in the field along with the Coordinated Health hospital network allows patients from the Lehigh Valley, and those from abroad who seek his skill set, a chance to be treated by a leader in the field of spine surgery. Such opportunities are generally limited to an academic or university hospital setting. “The personalized care you get at Coordinated Health cannot be found at the university setting. In addition, I personally perform all surgeries along with a hand picked spine surgery team. There are no residents, fellows, or medical students training and learning on our patients. This increases efficiency and limits complications associated with inexperience.”
“Results are what matters. You don’t get good results by operating on everyone,” says Dr. Wagener. He believes in an honest and up front approach to his patient’s problems. “I am lucky to have done a lot of spine surgery as well as having access to a network of colleagues to discuss cases. I have a sense of who will benefit from surgery and who will not. In truth, I offer surgery to less than 20% of those who seek a surgical opinion. Some people simply won’t get clinically significant benefit from surgery. I recently attended an information session on laser spine surgery in Philadelphia. A family practice doctor, not a surgeon, gave the talk on behalf of the group. He said they offered operations to 90% of those that sought treatment from them and that most of them improved. His definition of “improved,” after I questioned him, was if a patient with a pain level of 9/10 before surgery had a level of 8/10 after surgery. I almost fell off my chair. This is not clinically significant improvement. I want my patients to get better. If surgery isn’t the answer, I will be upfront about it.”
When Dr. Wagener is not doing spine surgery, he enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife Marie, a dermatologist. In the last few years, he has traveled to England, Peru, Argentina, Brazil/Amazon, Panama, and Nicaragua. “Seeing and experiencing different parts of the world allows me to connect with all kinds of patients as well as appreciate what we have at home. Without question, it has made me a better person and a better physician.” He also is an avid fly fisherman, surfer and recently started playing golf. “I’m addicted (to golf). Unfortunately, unlike spine surgery, my passion does not match my ability. I’ve never been so frustrated, but I enjoy the struggle.”
University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Magna Cum Laude, 1991-1995
Georgetown University, Department of Physiology, Washington, D.C., Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics, Graduated with highest distinction, 1996-1997
Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C., Doctorate of Medicine, Cum Laude, 1997-2001
University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, Orthopaedic Surgery Internship, 2001-2003
Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C., Orthopaedic Surgery Resident, 2003-2006
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, Orthopaedic Spine Surgery Fellowship, 2006-2007
- Orthopedic spine surgery
- Minimally-invasive spine surgery
There are 4 videos featuring Christopher Wagener, MD
Dr. Christopher Wagener put an end to my chronic back pain
I went to Dr.Wagener a year ago. I was in constant pain. I had epidurals with no success. In 2005 I had a spinal fusion of L4&5 but even after that I still had pain and numbness in my right leg. (That surgery was done by another Dr.) After all the tests were done it was decided that I should have surgery again. Dr. Wagener explains everything so anyone can understand and tells you the pros & cons. I had the surgery on June 15, 2011 & it was the best thing I could have done. Had the surgery in Sacred Heart Hospital & had the best care I have ever had in the hospital. I now can say that my back feels better than it has in about 10 years. I would recomend Dr. Wagener to anyone. He is not just knowledgeable but also a nice & caring person.
Dr. Wagener Provided Excellent Care
I would like like to thank Dr. Chris Wagener and his staff for the excellent care I received when I had my spinal fusion surgery. Everyone was so friendly and caring. Dr. Wagener did an excellent job explaning the whole procedure, my back has been bad for about 20 years, the pain in my leg was gone immediately after surgery, I am finally able to sit and walk for long periods of time with no pain, his surgery was done with extreme precison, and he took great care to see that he had done his surgery exact. Care in the hospital was great and he came into check me several times after surgery to check in on how I felt, thanks to all.
The Best in Spine Care
I CANNOT THANK DR.'S WAGENER & STOLL ENOUGH! I WOULD ADVISE SOMEONE TO NOT OVERLY WORRY ABOUT NEEDING EPIDURAL INJECTIONS OR SPINE SURGERY IF YOU ARE IN THEIR CARE! My story is a long one of periods of pain due to degenerative disc disease. Suffice it to say that I have been treated , first by Dr. Scott Stoll (for about 7 years with epidural injections & physical therapy) and 2 weeks ago Dr. Chris Wagener performed surgery on my back. I found that Dr.'s Stoll & Wagener were very similar in some important ways. They are both very intelligent, very knowledgeable/up-to-date, & very caring physicians. I never felt rushed at any appointment & always felt that both of these physicians had my best interest in their minds & hearts.They both "went out of their way" to help me! I would be more happy to talk with any patient about my experiences.
Back Surgery a “Miracle”
I spent 10 months with severe back and leg pain. I could not walk or stand for more than 10 minutes without experiencing pain. I tried physical therapy, epidural injections, and months with the chiropractor. I did not get relief until Dr. Wagener performed a surgical "miracle" on my back. I am totally pain free thanks to his skills.
Former Athlete Finds Back Relief
I am a 44 yr old former elite athlete would still trains 14 hours/week. After four painful weeks of c6-c7 herniated disk, and one injection, I was scheduled for surgery in early June 2013; I cancelled the day prior because I wanted to try additional injections and acupuncture. Dr. Wagener was fine with the late cancellation- in fact, he wants patients to do everything possible to avoid surgery. This should be appreciated by patients as many surgeons advise surgery as soon as they can. After an additional injection, which limited the pain but did nothing to restore the 40-50% muscle loss now plaguing my right arm, I had a single level c6-c7 ACDF on July 19. Dr. Wagener and his team were wonderful; I have undergone eight major surgeries at other leading institutions, and this experience ranks among the best. Four weeks post surgery I am working, walking, and biking, even as all the random pain and inconvenience I was told to expect are present. however, the important thing is that the atrophied right triceps is slowly returning to normal, and I hope to regain the muscle loss over the course of 12 months. Dr. Wagener and his assistant are courteous but frank, and answer any questions you may have. Another advantage is that they realize that a fit 44 year old will differ from a weak elderly patient or a fit college kid, and thus do not prescribe the same treatment to everyone. Overall I would not hesitate to say you would be challenged to find a better doctor for help with cervical - and lumbar spine issues.
Dr. Wagener Responds Quickly to Ease Chronic Neck Pain
I was at my wits end with chronic neck pain. Just about the time I thought I could no longer bear any more pain I was introduced to Dr. Christopher Wagener. To my good fortune, a dear friend offered Dr. Wagener’s cell phone number to me and implored me to call him for an opinion.
I phoned the doctor early on a Tuesday morning expecting to reach voicemail. Much to my surprise, Dr. Wagener answered his cell phone and I managed to stutter and stammer the reason for my call. Still more shocked, he asked if I could be at his Bethlehem office at 3:00 pm that same day. Wow!!
He performed spinal fusion surgery the following Monday. When I woke up in recovery, I could sense the chronic pain had ceased. Truly amazing.
Four months into my recuperation, I realize now what a phenomenal experience I have endured. I am so thankful this doctor cared enough to listen to my complaints. I’m grateful this doctor had a logical and modern approach for treatment. Most importantly, I found a physician willing to spend more than 10 minutes with me and who reassured me what I was dealing with was real and not just in my head.
I simply want to ask, to plea, that you raise awareness in the Lehigh Valley of the hidden gem located at your facility. His name is Dr. Christopher Wagener. Please help others find him too.
Dr. Wagener Eases Leg Pain Through Surgery
I had neurogenic intermittent claudication since 1996 and when symptomatic, I had terrible upper right leg pain which caused me to walk like a 90 year old who needed hip replacement. I went to see Dr. Wagener in December 2009 and he told me my options after seeing the X-rays, MRI, and CT scan. He did an anterior and posterior decompression and stabilization surgery at LV Muhlenberg assisted by Dr. Meir Levi and I can’t say enough about the difference. No more leg pain whatsoever. Dr. Wagener, Dr. Meir Levi along with everyone else involved were a true GODSEND. I could never repay them. Thank you so much!!
Dr. Christopher Wagener got me back to golf after spinal surgery
In November 2011, I had surgery for a herniated disc at a local hospital, which was successful. But 3 days later the pain returned. An MRI found scar tissue had formed and the doctor said there was nothing else he could do. The tissue would only grow back.
After several months of pain, physical therapy, and injections, I was advised to see Dr. Wagener, and it was the best thing I ever did. He not only took care of the scar tissue but he also put spacers, rods and screws in and did a bone graft. It took almost a year for recovery, but I am back on the golf course and working in my yard and garden. Thank you Dr. Wagener and Jen and Colin.