Luke Macyszyn, MD
A neurosurgeon at DISC Sports & Spine Center, Luke Macyszyn, MD, specializes in minimally invasive treatments of complex spinal disorders caused by scoliosis, trauma, degeneration and cancer. Dr. Macyszyn earned a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology and psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He then earned his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine, followed by a neurosurgery residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He completed a fellowship in spinal deformity surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa, Florida.
Dr. Macyszyn leads a National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory focused on improving the diagnosis and management of patients with spinal disorders using artificial intelligence. He has authored several publications and book chapters on neurological surgery, spine surgery and image analysis, and he has lectured internationally. He has been featured on Today and named a Southern California Super Doctor since 2017.
What do you love about your career?
I’ve always found the complexity of spinal surgery to be tremendously exciting. There isn’t a person I’ve met who hasn’t experienced either neck or back pain at some point. I quickly learned how integral spinal health is to everyone’s lives. To me, nothing could be more interesting than a problem that affects almost everyone, every day.
What is your specialty?
With every patient I see, I use the most minimally invasive means possible to reconstruct their spine—or remove a tumor in the spine—and allow patients to return to their normal life pain-free, as soon as possible. Now I can use cutting-edge technology and perform this in an outpatient surgery center.
What defining characteristics have led to your success?
Perseverance and hard work. As the cliché goes, hard work trumps talent.
What advice do you give your clients?
Take your time. Except for rare circumstances, spinal surgery can wait. It is best to seek the advice of two to three surgeons before committing to treatment. One of the most common lines I share with my patients is that there is always time for more surgery; surgery is not going away. However, there is never a time to undo surgery.
What challenges have you faced in your work?
A lot of the more complex spinal procedures have always been performed in a hospital setting. This includes things like disc replacements, fusion surgeries and tumor resections. My goal is to be able to treat these pathologies without patients being admitted to a hospital and spending days—if not weeks—in rehabilitation. I would like to offer this level of service and help patients be back on their feet hours after surgery. This has required the development of specialized surgical tools and techniques so we can perform these interventions in an outpatient setting, thereby improving safety and reducing downtime for patients. Although this has been a long and challenging process, it has also been extremely rewarding to see patients do so well.
How do you rally your team to take on a big goal?
Everything we do in my practice is a team effort. From answering phones, getting back to patients and scheduling tests to performing surgical interventions—it is all a team effort. Sometimes these efforts can be extremely challenging due to a patient’s health or the extent of disease. I constantly remind our staff that the patients we operate on become like family members, and we should enter into that relationship knowing that we will need to be there for them for the rest of their lives.
What motivates you to go to work every day?
I love interacting with my staff and patients every day. Working with all of them, discussing complex medical challenges with them and sharing a meal with them is what excites me about work every day and motivates me to be an even better physician the next day.
Share what is up next for you and your business.
We have a lot of exciting developments happening at DISC Sports & Spine Center. This year we opened a clinical location in Encino, enabling patients in the San Fernando Valley to have quick, easy, convenient access to the expertise that DISC is known for. We also opened our flagship surgical center in Marina Del Rey, where we provide the highest level of personalized spine care available in Los Angeles.
What does the future of medicine look like?
The future of spinal medicine is vertically integrated outpatient care. I foresee patients being seen by a surgeon, physician or medical group that provides the patient with all the necessary tools and treatments to manage their neck or low back pain without entering the hospital once. I feel like we are halfway there, and over the next 10 to 15 years we will transition the majority of spinal care to high-quality, high-acuity outpatient centers that are singularly focused on spinal medicine. I am dedicated to innovation and developing surgical approaches and technologies to significantly benefit patients, improve outcomes and change the status quo.