Meet Dr. Edward R. Santos
Patient education is second nature to orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Edward R. Santos. As an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, he educated medical residents for more than a decade before joining the spine team at Summit Orthopedics.
In March of 2016, Dr. Edward R. Santos transitioned from his position as an associate professor at the University of Minnesota to his new quarters with Summit Orthopedics as a part of Summit’s spine team. His move was only the most recent leg of a medical journey that began on the other side of the world.
“I grew up in the Philippines,” explains Dr. Santos. “During my medical training, I saw a lot of individuals who suffered from tuberculosis of the spine and other back disorders. Spinal disorders can be debilitating, and I wanted to help these patients. Most spine surgeons do one year of extra spine training—I did two: one year in Australia and another in the Twin Cities. When patients have low back and neck pain, they are often unable to work and function—and that comes at a cost. I was drawn to this specialty because I saw the potential for surgery to relieve pain and to bring these patients back to their normal activities and productivity.”
Dr. Santos’s academic position provided opportunities to conduct research and to teach the procedures that correct degenerative disorders of the neck and lower back. “For me, it was important to achieve surgical expertise, but it was also important to foster a good relationship with the patients. I take pride in making my patients feel that they are really special, and I strive to get good outcomes.”
He considers it an honor that during his university practice, two of his partners and a former resident asked him to handle their own spine surgeries. “My partners could have asked any spine surgeon perform their surgeries—but they came to me,” he smiles. “For me, that’s the biggest thrill. I think it is an indicator of how well you are trusted, and how well you are practicing your craft.”
“I love good outcomes,” he continues. “I remember one patient who had severe spinal stenosis. The condition pinched the nerves in her lower back and she could barely stand or walk for more than 10 to 15 seconds before she’d have to sit down. She said she needed my help because her son was getting married in three months. Her dream was to dance with him at his wedding. Surgery for spinal stenosis is a time-tested surgery that is proven to work. We did the surgery and her outcome was excellent. A few months later, I received a picture of her with her son on the dance floor at the wedding. On the back of the photo she’d written: “I could not have done this without you, so thank you so much!” That’s what makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work: the difference I can make in people’s lives. It may not have been a difficult surgery, but the difference it made for her was huge.”
“I love good outcomes, I love being able to help people, and I love interacting with my patients. I want to be the doctor with whom patients can share their fears and concerns and dreams. And when they tell me I’ve changed their life and given them back their life? Without a doubt, that’s the best part of my job.”
“I am committed to providing the best care possible for all of my patients with spine disorders. I treat each and every patient as I would treat any member of my family. I believe that patients’ concerns and expectations deserve to be heard. I also believe in the importance of having a thorough discussion of both surgical and nonsurgical options, with the goal of relieving pain and restoring function.”