, MD, is a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, having served as the director of the spine and orthopaedic surgery department since 1999. His special interests include surgical management of cervical myelopathy, minimally invasive spine surgery, spinal tumors and spine trauma. Dr. Rao and his team have published extensive research on managing cervical myelopathy, showing how instrumentation of the cervical vertebrae may be safely accomplished to stabilize the spine column post-decompression.
"Cervical myelopathy is an often misdiagnosed condition where the patient and even family will assume the decline in function of the patient is related to old age," Dr. Rao says. "Development of newer techniques and refinement of old ones over the years has improved our armamentarium in halting and even reversing the disease. It is very gratifying to see the improvement in function many of these patients have after relieving the pressure on their spinal cord."
Dr. Rao's research group also developed a mouse model to test lumbar spinal fusion procedures, helping surgeons better understand the biology of the spinal fusion process.
Beyond his role as researcher, surgeon and professor, Dr. Rao is a major player in U.S. regulatory and health policy discussion and implementation. He's a permanent voting member of the Advisory Panel on Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, notably participating in FDA's response to pre-market application of products such as BMP-2 and OP-1, used during lumbar spine fusion.
Dr. Rao is also a member of the board of directors of the North American Spine Society and led the national advocacy efforts of the society from 2008 to 2011, during and after the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He sits on the editorial board of a number of international and national scientific journals.
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