Meet the Seattle Top Doctor Performing Spinal Surgery with Shorter Hospital Stays and Quicker Recoveries

Northwest Neurosurgery spinal surgeon Stephen Houston is taking the delicate art of spinal surgery to the next level

By Erika Almanza Brown March 29, 2018


This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the April 2018 issue, as part of the Top Doctors cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Why did you choose this specialty?  
Early in my training I realized that I enjoyed, and was good at, very delicate surgery. Neurosurgery is comprised of some, if not the most, delicate surgeries performed.

What are your areas of special interest? 
I have subspecialized in spinal surgery. The anatomy is complex, as are the operations. My patients are interested in improving their quality of life. 

Is there a recent development in your field that you’re especially excited about?
A relatively recent development is the artificial disc. Many conditions that previously required a fusion can now be treated with this option.

What’s the biggest misconception that patients have about what you do?
Patient misconceptions can include the length of surgery, the need for a hospital stay and the recovery period. Many operations take less than an hour, are outpatient procedures, and patients can return to most activities within a few days. 

What can we do to prevent back problems, and what are some solutions for people who have back pain?
Back pain is complex, but one piece of simple advice is to stay active or keep moving. Many patients that experience pinched nerve pain end up considering minimally invasive spinal surgery. When conservative care supervised by a primary care provider fails, a referral to me is appropriate.

What’s the most important thing that patients should pay attention to when choosing a doctor? 
Assuming the doctors you visit are well trained, board certified and reputable, the next step is to choose a doctor that communicates well with you. Make sure you get a chance to ask all of your questions, and have them answered.


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