Dr J. Patrick Johnson has over 20 years experience as a complex spinal neurosurgeon starting with his training at UCLA starting in the mid 1980’s when technology in spinal surgery was having its modern day renaissance where he had opportunities to gain expertise in essentially every aspect of spinal disorders and spinal surgery. He attributes many of his successes to the training he had with Dr Ulrich Batzdorf and Dr Donald Becker at UCLA, then Dr Alan Crockard at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London, England and as the 1st Spine Fellow at the University of Tennessee in Memphis with another UCLA alumnus, Dr Kevin Foley. In the past decade he has expanded his expertise to include spinal deformity surgery including scoliosis working with a team of leading and highly experienced orthopedic spinal surgeons at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
While on the faculty at UCLA, he was a key surgeon in establishing the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center, the UCLA Neurosurgery Spine Fellowship and the UCLA Spine Surgery and Computer Guided Laboratories. He rapidly became a widely published innovator of medical devices, minimally invasive and endoscopic techniques and complex reconstructive surgery including scoliosis. Dr Johnson has published extensively and is an author of over 500 peer-reviewed publications, books, book chapters, posters, abstracts, presentations and served as Visiting Professor at many leading academic medical centers in the United States and internationally.
He established himself as one of the premier spine surgeons on the West Coast while at UCLA by taking on and successfully treating the most complex spine problems ranging from spinal trauma, spinal tumors and cancer, spinal infections and complex deformity. He is also known as the “physician’s physician” regularly sought after to treat other doctors and their families. He continued his highly successful career to become the Director of the Institute for Spinal Disorders at Cedars Sinai in 2001 to establish it as a premier Spine Center of Excellence now with a world-renowned reputation for innovative research and education. His leadership played a key role in the development of the new Neurosurgery Residency Training Program at Cedars Sinai and now has expanded his presence of leadership and clinical expertise to include professorial positions in the Departments of Neurosurgery at UC Irvine in Orange County and UC Davis in Sacramento.
His expertise covers the entire spectrum of spinal disorders that includes not only degenerative disc and nerve related problems that are commonly treated but also includes more complex disorders and treatments not often treated by neurosurgeons and orthopedic spinal surgeons. Some of the featured problems, disorders, procedures and treatments he has particular interest, experience, and expertise are listed below.
Common spinal problems include disc herniation, spinal stenosis (arthritic narrowing), spondylolisthesis, (slippage of the vertebrae) and bone spurs can cause a wide range of symptoms from pain, numbness, weakness, gait disturbance and in severe, but rare, cases may cause paralysis, and loss of bowel, bladder and sexual function. Dr Johnson has a vast understanding of […]Learn More
Minimally invasive spinal surgery is a focus of Dr Johnson’s practice, and he has pioneered several key procedures and has been a leader in perfecting less invasive disc surgery where these procedures are often done in an out-patient and “same-day-surgery“ setting or short hospital stay through the use of small incisions, microsurgery and nearly bloodless […]Learn More
Since the spinal column was intended to be mobile, avoiding spinal fusion surgery if at all possible has been a major focus of Dr Johnson throughout his career. His understanding and teaching of the biomechanics and understanding the sources of “pain generators” in the spinal column is a key to making the correct decision and […]Learn More
Dr Johnson has extensive experience in artificial disc replacement (ADR) and has been a lead investigator for FDA approved clinical trials for both cervical and lumbar artificial disc replacement technology since they were introduced in the United States over the past decade. He was a lead investigator clinical trials for the Charite lumbar artificial disc […]Learn More
Endoscopic surgery has special applications for treatment of spinal problems particularly in the thoracic spinal column. Where endoscopic procedures for cervical and lumbar disorders have limited and less predictable outcomes, thoracic disc and spinal problems are often treated most successfully with minimally invasive “thoracoscopic or VATS (video-assisted endoscopic thoracic surgery).” Dr Johnson has been one […]Learn More
Endoscopic surgery has special applications for treatment of sympathetically mediated disorders (sweaty palms and some pain disorders) that require minimally invasive procedures in the thoracic cavity. Treatment of hyperhidrosis in the past was done through a large posterior spinal incision and was not always successful. Dr Johnson has been one the original pioneers of developing […]Learn More
Thoracic spinal surgery of any type is uncommon comprising <5% of all spinal surgical procedures and most spinal surgeons have limited experience in this subspecialty area Dr Johnson has extensive experience in thoracic spinal surgery of all types and has performed over 1000 surgical procedures involving the thoracic spine ranging from microsurgery, herniated disc surgery, […]Learn More
Spinal Tumors Spinal (vertebral) tumors are either Primary (arising from the vertebra itself) or Secondary/Metastatic (arising from a location other than the spinal column) and can cause either neurological symptoms and/or spinal instability that results in pain and can also cause paralysis from spinal cord compression from tumor or collapse of the spinal column. They may require […]Learn More
Computer guided spinal surgery uses application of stereotactic navigation methods that were developed in the 1960”s for brain surgery that used bulky frame devices and were not easily applied to spine surgery. Dr Johnson has been involved in the development of applying this technology with high speed computers and intraoperative navigation procedures that increase the […]Learn More
The region where the head and neck articulate has unique and highly complex anatomy and function in a high-risk region that typically requires particular expertise in the treatment. The treatment largely depends upon a clear understanding of the biomechanics of this region, and the surgical treatment often requires precision surgical techniques in a region that […]Learn More
Deformity of the spinal column is a wide array of complex abnormalities that goes beyond scoliosis that is the most well known spinal deformity disorder. These can have unknown causes as in adolescent idiopathic (ie; unknown) scoliosis (AIS) or degenerative scoliosis can be caused by curvature developing in the aging spine. Kyphosis is the other […]Learn More
Spinal injuries can be serious life threatening problems that cause paralysis requiring complex surgical repair and others are lesser injuries that my only result in transient pain that are treated with a brace or collar while they heal. Fractures can occur in various regions of the spine and must be evaluated by a spine surgeon […]Learn More
Spinal Infections are difficult problems that can arise spontaneously or as a result of prior surgery and all are difficult problems that require a multidisciplinary approach often with the spinal surgeon, interventional radiologist, and the infectious disease specialist. Acute spinal infection problem can lead to death and paralysis if left untreated and some spinal infections […]Learn More
Chiari Malformation, Syringomyelia, Tethered Spinal Cord, and Cerebrospinal Spinal Fluid (CSF) Leaks and Related Disorders
These complex disorders are unusual and varied set of neurological and neurosurgical problems usually related to cerebrospinal spinal fluid flow disorders causing a variety of neurological symptoms including headaches, visual disturbance, extremity pain, weakness. They can be a result of congenital abnormalities or acquired from injuries, infections, and prior surgery. Publications: Batzdorf U, […]Learn More