As a child, Dr. Burak Ozgur noticed his father’s gentle spirit and humility, which he carried into his neurosurgery practice. His father’s lack of ostentatious details, such as a flashy car or an expensive watch, conveyed to Ozgur a deep sense of peace and respect for the work he was doing and the people he was helping. This inspired the character Dr. Ozgur brings to his medical practice today.
Dr. Burak Ozgur is a top US neurosurgeon with certification from both the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Spine Surgery. His specialty is minimally invasive spine surgery, which involved techniques that were just coming into practice while he was in his seven-year residency.
Training to Lead
“Neuroscience is like space; we have a few things we know, but it’s still like a completely undiscovered field,” Ozgur said.
“And I think that mystery, that excitement, drove me towards neurosciences.”
At first, Ozgur’s enthusiasm kept him away from the one place he would later gain notoriety: spinal surgery. “Before minimally invasive spine surgeries, traditional surgeries struck me as barbaric and extremely painful for the patients, and I didn’t want to be involved with that,” he said.
But when a neurosurgeon in Brazil began experimenting with minimally-invasive spinal surgeries, Ozgur became intrigued. He began experimenting with possible minimally-invasive treatments and requested to learn from this doctor directly. His request was granted. Then, after years of training and research, Ozgur wrote and released the world’s first paper on a minimally invasive spinal surgery technique called XLIF, which to this day remains in popularity.
From then on, Ozgur has created programs to help patients in all conditions receive the relief they deserve. His work has slowed but not been daunted by the current pandemic, and his desire for better healthcare is evident.
No Patient Left Behind
The problem with the current healthcare system, Ozgur finds, is that many primary doctors are unaware of the options their patients have. An unfortunately typical example revolves around spinal stenosis, which typically affects older patients. “It can be a very debilitating problem, but it’s also very easy to treat with the right diagnosis and skill set,” Ozgur said.
However, from his observations, many of his clients were told that they were too old or would have to deal with the pain because their doctors thought they were no longer suitable candidates for surgery.
“Literally, it brings tears in my eyes to see these patients suffering, who can barely walk or come in a wheelchair. And I think they’re reat candidates for a minimally invasive cure,” Ozgur said.
“When they come out of a surgery, they are smiling; they have a new lease on life,” he continued. “They say to me, ‘I feel like I’m 20 years younger, and I can now play with my grandkids!'”
These fulfilling experiences drive Ozgur to expand options for his patients and those outside of his clientele so that no one has to live in pain. Before COVID-19, Ozgur would undertake medical missions with his team, traveling to impoverished communities and giving them health care.
With US travel posing a risk, Ozgur looks forward to the day when he can help his community here and abroad in person. He also would love to visit his parents, whom he hasn’t seen since the pandemic began.
In the meantime, his practice offers telehealth services and performs only the most urgent surgeries. He continues to look at new research that will advance minimally invasive surgeries, which he believes is the future.
Dr. Burak Ozgur is a frequent writer and is currently working on his second book to help patients understand spine health and treatment options. You can learn more about him via his website.
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Brianna Connors & Derek Archer Co-Editors