"Many patients mistakenly believe that spine surgery does not work or that they will be worse after a procedure," says Dr. Christopher Wagener, MD. "New techniques, technology, and diagnostic studies have improved results and returned patients back to their lives."
Dr. Wagener's elite training and practice experience has made him one of the nation’s premier surgeons and an expert in spine surgery. He is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, where he graduated with honors. He performed his orthopedic surgery training at Georgetown University Hospital before completing a Spine Surgery Fellowship at the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Wagener 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, and an international speaker/expert, author, and instructor on minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Elected by his peers to be part of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, which was limited to fewer than 200 surgeons worldwide during the time of his inclusion, Dr. Wagener has demonstrated a commitment and mastery to this emerging technique. His reputation and results have made him one of the busiest spine surgeons in his region, performing more than 350 surgeries per year.
“The personalized care you get at Coordinated Health cannot be found at the university setting," reports Dr. Wagener. "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."
Dr. Wagener believes in an honest and up-front approach to his patients' 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," he notes. "I have a sense of who will benefit from surgery and who will not. In truth, I offer surgery to less than 20 percent 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 percent 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," he says. "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