The advancements in the world of pediatric orthopaedics have come a long way in the past three decades. Just ask Jeffrey Neustadt, M.D. He has been at the forefront of this emerging technology helping thousands of children live a more normal and pain-free life.
A graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, Neustadt completed his orthopaedic residency training at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. He is Board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is currently an attending orthopaedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Children’s Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates.
“The surgical procedures I perform are more complicated now than in 1991,” Neustadt says. “The advances in technology and in our understanding of the three-dimensional nature of the spinal deformity has made it more complicated, but has improved patient outcomes. It’s more complicated because it’s so much more precise, and we are working closer to the spinal cord and the aorta. The tools we use and instrumentation we can implant require tremendous precision. The surgical technique is completely different today. We do things now that we never dreamed would be imaginable back then.”
“We started using 3-D imaging before it was widely recognized,” he says. “We also have computers right in the operating room and can refer to the imaging during surgery. People are astonished with the tools we have available. Orthopaedic surgery is much more accurate and safer today.”
U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the pediatric orthopaedics program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s in the top 50 in the United States for 2021-2022.
His former patients include Leah Roddenberry, who was crowned Miss Florida this past summer and will soon compete in the Miss America competition. "I underwent spinal fusion surgery at the age of 17 to correct a 63-degree curvature in my spine,” she says. “I got two rods and 18 screws in my back. I am so grateful to still be able to dance and share my talent with others,” Roddenberry says.
“The fact that she has been able to accomplish what she has is wonderful,” Neustadt says. “If I had anything to do with that, I’m very grateful.
"I couldn’t have accomplished what I have without the help of the amazing surgical colleagues that have joined me in our practice, or without the incredibly talented and dedicated team of nurses and technicians we have put together at Johns Hopkins All Children's.
“To be successful, these complicated procedures require a team approach. An observer in surgery once told me that it reminded him of an orchestra: each part was functioning independently – but in concert – to create something amazing and fantastic. I am indebted to all the members of the team.”
Why did you pick orthopaedic surgery as your medical specialty?
When I was an intern at the University of Arizona, I was grouped with some orthopaedic surgeons. At the time I had no interest in orthopaedic surgery. But it turned out that I loved it. I watched other physicians in this field and they enjoyed what they did. It became apparent to me that it was the perfect combination for me. I wanted to be around people who were technically excellent and who experienced joy every day by providing functional restoration and great relief to their patients.
Once I decided to do orthopaedic surgery, it was during my residency in Miami that I chose pediatric orthopaedics. I had great mentors all along the way and that’s what really led me to do what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate.
What type of patients do you care for?
I treat kids with spinal deformities and scoliosis. Most of the surgical cases I do now involve scoliosis.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
Professionally, the impact was minimal. We stopped doing elective surgeries for about two months when COVID started last year. Since we started back, we’ve been as busy as ever. Personally, I’ve witnessed a lot of social isolation. So many people became very isolated in the world.
What do you do in your spare time when you are not doing complex surgeries?
I like to get away and go to Colorado to hike in the summer and ski in the winter. I really feel at home in the mountains. It’s very calming to me.