When Young Lu was in medical school, he was immediately drawn to one specialty.
“On orthopedics rotations, it was gratifying to see that patients we treated had immediate improvement,” said Dr. Young Lu, EmergeOrtho Coastal Region’s newest spine specialist. “I was also influenced by my mom, who was a surgeon, although not in orthopedics. I was just fascinated by the idea of using my hands to make a profound difference in a person’s life.”
Specializing in back, neck and spine came about in a similar way.
“I was assisting in a surgery for a kyphosis (spinal deformity) patient,” explained Dr. Lu. “This person had been suffering with the condition for years and, in a matter of a few hours, his quality of life was dramatically improved. I wanted to do that.”
Who Should Have Spine Surgery?
Dr. Lu said spine surgery is gratifying and can change patients’ lives but the most important aspect is to determine who will benefit from spine surgery. “It is critical to take the time to listen to patients and really understand their pain and suffering,” he explained, “and then using that information, along with imaging, determine if surgery can help.”
To determine how to care for a patient, Dr. Lu said surgeons should ask a series of questions: Is this someone who can benefit from spine surgery? Are there alternative, non-operative treatments that could treat their symptoms? And if the patient is a surgical candidate, what is the safest and least invasive surgery that will accomplish the results?
“Success comes when you have the proper indications, the right procedure, and are doing surgery for the right reason,” he said.
The Road to Wilmington
After completing his fellowship in spine surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Lu joined the University of Miami Department of Orthopedic Surgery as an assistant professor. While there, he learned a great deal from the well-known spine surgeons on staff.
“I was looking for something similar in my next position,” he said. “We found Wilmington because my wife got a job here and we realized it’s a great place to raise a family. It fits well into our idea of community. EmergeOrtho in particular is a true fit because the practice has a great reputation and the partners are excellent. I had that in Miami, and I wanted that here.”
Spine Surgery Now and In the Future
The use of surgical technology has escalated rapidly over the past decade and Dr. Lu anticipates it will only continue.
“The technology is impressive,” he said. “For example, the incorporation of computer-assisted robotic systems in minimally invasive spine surgery has made a dramatic difference for surgeons and patients. It provides greater accuracy for the placement of screws and for decompression, plus there’s less radiation, which is better for everyone.”
Dr. Lu has also seen more emphasis on getting people out of the hospital quicker. “The use of surgery centers has increased significantly and will continue as more spine surgeries are done on an outpatient basis,” he said. “Surgeries are less invasive, which means less blood loss, less pain, and a quicker recovery. Patients prefer to recover at home and are now much better able to do so successfully.”
While he is an advocate of technological advancements, Dr. Lu emphasized his belief that the most important component in medicine is excellent communication between the physician and the patient.
“There needs to be transparency and trust,” he said. “Doctors should listen closely to what their patients are saying and then address their concerns. I have learned over the years that this is, by far, the most important part of practicing medicine.”
About Dr. Lu
Young Lu, MD, earned his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from Cornell University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NY. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of California Irvine Medical Center and a spine surgery fellowship at the renowned Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Lu was the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout medical school and training. He is also widely published in medical journals, a frequent presenter at medical conferences, and a prolific researcher in the orthopedic field.
As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship-trained spine specialist, Dr. Lu sees patients for a variety of back, neck and spine conditions and injuries, treating them both non-surgically and surgically.
Before joining EmergeOrtho Coastal Region, Dr. Lu was an assistant professor in the University of Miami Department of Orthopedic Surgery.
Dr. Lu is now accepting new patients in the following EmergeOrtho offices: 2716 Ashton Drive in Wilmington, 6019 Oleander Drive in Wilmington’s Seagate area, 1885 Market Street Suite 104 in Porters Neck, and 209 Highway 117 N in Burgaw.