Dr. Ruth Jackson: the legacy of the first female spine surgeon.

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Dr. Ruth Jackson, born in 1902, was the first female spine surgeon on record. Her story of remarkable resilience and sacrifice is even more relevant given the stark gender disparities in orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery that remain today. Dr. Jackson entered the field during the Great Depression and overcame significant barriers at each step along the process. In 1937, she became the first woman to pass the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery examination and join the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons as a full member. Her work in the cervical spine led to a notable lecture record and the publication of several articles, as well as a book, The Cervical Syndrome, in which she discussed the anatomy, etiology, and treatment of cervical pathologies. Additionally, Dr. Jackson developed the Jackson CerviPillo, a neck support that is still in use today. She left a legacy that continues to resonate through the work of the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society, which supports women at all levels of practice and training. From the story of Dr. Jackson's life, we can appreciate her single-minded determination that blazed a path for women in spine surgery, as well as consider the progress that remains to be made.





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Srinivasan, Ethan S, Melissa M Erickson, Christopher I Shaffrey and Khoi D Than (2022). Dr. Ruth Jackson: the legacy of the first female spine surgeon. Journal of neurosurgery. Spine, 37(5). pp. 1–5. 10.3171/2022.4.spine22373 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28016.

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Melissa Maria Erickson

Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I am a spine surgeon who provides surgical management of cervical, thoracic  and lumbar spine conditions, including cervical myelopathy, herniated discs, deformity, stenosis, tumor and trauma.  I provide both minimally invasive procedures as well as traditional surgical techniques.


Khoi Duc Than

Professor of Neurosurgery

I chose to pursue neurosurgery as a career because of my fascination with the human nervous system. In medical school, I developed a keen interest in the diseases that afflict the brain and spine and gravitated towards the only field where I could help treat these diseases with my own hands. I focus on disorders of the spine where my first goal is to help patients avoid surgery if at all possible. If surgery is needed, I treat patients using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques available in order to minimize pain, blood loss, and hospital stay, while maximizing recovery, neurologic function, and quality of life. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am an avid sports fan and love to eat. I try to stay physically fit by going to the gym and playing ice hockey.

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