Interventional Spine Care Fellowship Program

The Virginia iSpine Physicians Interventional Spine Care fellowship program is a rigorous training program that teaches physiatrists an evidence based, algorithmic approach to diagnosing and treating painful spinal disorders. Fellows learn how to critically evaluate and interpret historical features, physical exam findings, diagnostic imaging features, and electrodiagnostic evaluations to formulate a comprehensive differential diagnosis. Inherent in this process is the judicious use of fluoroscopically guided precision spinal procedures to accurately diagnose and optimally treat symptoms.

Fellows contribute to original research, grant writing, abstract and manuscript preparation, and student, resident, and patient education. These research and community outreach activities are orchestrated through the Virginia Spine Research Institute, Inc.

Fellows trained in this curriculum will learn how to operate an efficient iSpine practice, practice evidence based spine medicine, and conduct meaningful spine research. A minimum 2 day interview visit is required after application submission and invitation to visit. Two positions are offered starting in July and September of each academic year. Interviews are conducted starting in May and run through mid August of the preceding calendar year.

Interested applicants should submit a letter of intent, personal statement, current CV, 3 letters of recommendation, USMLE (or equivalent) and SAE scores to Dr. Michael J. DePalma by email.

A $50 administrative fee is due with each application. Checks may be made out to Virginia iSpine Physicians.

Current Fellow

Shoji Ishigami, MD, PhD

Past Fellows

2009
Brian Trussell, MD
Founder of Interventional Spine and Sports Institute in Hattiesburg, MS

2011
Thomas Saullo, MD
Spine and Scoliosis Specialists in Greensboro, NC

2012
Ben Laplante, DO
Unity Rehabilitation Neurology in Rochester, NY

2013
Derek Buck, MD
OrthoArkansas in Little Rock, AR

2014
Barry Sanderlin, MD
Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists in Hickory, NC

2015
Justin J. Gasper, DO
St. Louis Pain Consultants, Chesterfield, MO

2016
Daniel L. Kline, MD
Winchester Medical Center – Valley Health, Winchester, VA

2017
David B. Essaff, DO
Winchester Medical Center- Valley Health, Winchester, VA

Papers fellows have written and published

  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Saullo T. Multivariable analyses of the relationships between age, gender, and body mass index and the source of chronic low back pain. Pain Med 2012;13:498-506.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Saullo TR, Laplante BL. Is the history of a surgical discectomy related to the source of chronic low back pain? Pain Phys 2012;15:E53-E58.
  • Laplante BL, Ketchum JM, Saullo TR DePalma MJ,. Multivariable analysis of the relationship between pain referral patterns and the source of chronic low back pain. Pain Phys 2012;15:171-178.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Saullo T. Structural etiology of chronic low back pain due to motor vehicle collision. Pain Med 2011;12(11):1622-1627.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Saullo T. Etiology of chronic low back pain in patients having undergone lumbar fusion. Pain Med 2011;12(5):732-739.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Trussell BS, Saullo TR, Slipman CW. Does the location of low back pain predict its source? PM R 2011;3(1):33-9.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, Saullo T. What is the source of chronic low back pain and does age play a role? Pain Med 2011;12(2):224-233.
  • DePalma MJ, Ketchum JM, PhD, Queler ED, Trussell BS. Prospective pilot study of painful lumbar facet joint arthropathy after intra-articular injection of Hylan G-F 20. PM R 2009;1(10):908-915.
  • Laplante BL, DePalma, MJ, “Spine Osteoarthritis.” Osteoarthritis supplement, PMR, USA;2012;4:S28-S36.
  • DePalma, MJ, Laplante BL, “Interventional spine care.” (Chapter) In: Orthopaedic Knowledge Update, Spine. (Eds) Rao R., Smuck M, American Academcy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Press, USA; 2012; 121-146.
  • Saullo TR, DePalma, MJ, “Preparation for interventional procedures.” (Chapter) In: Interventional Pain Medicine. (Ed) Gupta A., Oxford University Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2012; 31-37.
  • Trussell BS, DePalma, M.J., “Provocation discography evaluation of symptomatic cervical discs,” (Chapter) in iSpine: Evidence Based Interventional Spine Care, DePalma M. (Ed) New York: Demos Medical; 2011:302-309.

A Description of courses fellows are enrolled in and are sent to during the fellowship

Fellows attend and participate in Neuromodulation courses including didactic lectures and hands on cadaver training. In addition to regular didactic lectures and journal article discussions, fellows are taught procedure skills using spine procedure mannequin education tools in preparation for ample hands-on training with patients.

A listing of all our current clinical trials

Fellows serve as sub-investigators on numerous sponsored and non-sponsored clinical research trials. Dr. DePalma has been involved in 4 intradiscal biologic trials (Stryker Biotech; Depuy Spine/Advanced Technologies and Regenerative Medicine; Spinal Restoration; Mesoblast), and is currently involved in: an NIH funded multi-center trial on transforaminal epidural steroid injections for lumbar spinal stenosis; vertebral body radiofrequency ablation of the basivertebral nerve study (Relievant); diagnostic sacroiliac joint block evaluation (SI Bone); sacroiliac joint fusion trial (SI Bone); and spinal cord stimulation for axial low back pain (St. Jude). Virginia iSpine Physicians’ fellows participate in these trials by assisting in screening patients, performing baseline examinations, and serving as blinded evaluators for follow up assessments. The opportunity for fellows to serve as sub-investigators on trials evaluating innovative new technologies is rare and unique but positions fellows in our program to not only be familiar with these advancements but also allows fellows an inside track after graduation.


Our Practice