Backbone: The Life and Game-Changing Career of a Spinal Neurosurgeon

Backbone: The Life and Game-Changing Career of a Spinal Neurosurgeon

by Volker K. H. Sonntag, MD


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Tuesday, January 25


On a beautiful spring morning in 1989, neurosurgeon and spine expert Volker Sonntag was just finishing rounds at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. At that same moment sixteen miles away, a hard-charging boy named TJ veered his bike into the path of a speeding pickup truck. The impact all but killed the boy, leaving him with a shattered leg, severe internal injuries, a massive blood clot near the brain stem, and—but for the fragile spinal cord—a complete separation of the skull from the spine.

This is the riveting story of how Dr. Sonntag's pioneering innovation that day launched him into the forefront of the emerging field of spinal neurosurgery. Surgeon to a Who’s Who of royalty, celebrities and politicians, his clear-eyed accounts of failures and successes, hostile turf wars, media accusations of quackery, political challenges, and cutting-edge technical advances reveal to the reader just what it takes to be a game-changer in one of the world's most harrowing professions.

Revered by patients, residents, and fellows for his highly personal approach to teaching and mentorship, and for his example of life balance, in this book Dr. Sonntag also shares stories of his youth as a German immigrant in Cold War America that lend insight into how, with humility, sacrifice, honesty, compassion, industry—and humor—an individual can overcome adversity and achieve the American Dream.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781945962752
Publisher: Lisa Hagan Books
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 193,045
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Volker K.H. Sonntag, MD, is vice-chairman emeritus at Barrow Brain and Spine. A world-renowned spinal neurosurgeon, he has been widely acclaimed for his pioneering contributions to the treatment and understanding of spinal disorders and is now a sought after speaker and consultant. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Table of Contents

1 The Miracle Boy 11

2 Showdown in the O.R 25

3 The Brain Abscess 35

4 A German-Born Doctor 39

5 An Attending in Steel Town USA 49

6 An Itinerant Neurosurgeon 57

7 The Oral Boards and Other Ordeals 67

8 Brainstorms 75

9 Backbone 85

10 The Weak Sisters of Neurosurgery 97

11 A Medical Juggernaut 107

12 The Complete Spine Doctor 117

13 Turf Wars 127

14 The Pedicle Screw Exposé 141

15 Physician to a Queen 153

16 Servant to a Queen 163

17 Auf Wiedersehen 173

18 Chief and Chiefies 181

19 The Courage to Care 193

20 The Celebrity Parade 201

21 The Blue Ribbon 211

22 Malpractice 217

23 Dresden 231

24 The Guru of Spine 245

Afterword: The Mensch 255

Acknowledgements 259

Customer Reviews