Get to Know: Neurosurgeon Avery Buchholz, MD

In a recent announcement, UVA Department of Neurosurgery Chair Mark Shaffrey, MD, shared news of a change within the department. Neurosurgeon Chris Shaffrey, MD, will no longer see patients at UVA.

“We value our relationship with referring providers and our team is making every effort to transition your patients’ care to neurosurgeon Avery Buchholz, MD, who trained with Dr. Shaffrey here at UVA,” said Mark Shaffrey. “Dr. Buchholz treats all disorders of the spine, with particular expertise in spinal deformity, adult and pediatric scoliosis, complex spine surgery, tumors of the spine and minimally invasive surgeries.”

To learn more about Buchholz, read the Q&A below:

Avery Buchholz, MD
Title: Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery
Fellowship: Complex spine, University of Virginia School of Medicine
Residency: Neurosurgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Medical Degree: University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Why did you choose to specialize in spine surgery?

Spine surgery was interesting to me because of both the mechanics of the spine and, when done right, surgery can really improve a patient’s quality of life. The right surgery in the appropriate patient can really help.

What is your clinical focus?

I like to do bigger cases — scoliosis, deformities, tumors, complex reconstructions, revisions — things where people are really in need of help. Those are the types of patients I focus on, but I see and treat all conditions of the spine.

What are some of the challenges of caring for these patients?

The conditions we treat most often require big surgeries needing lots of care. Fortunately at UVA, we have a great team in place for the entire treatment process. We are continually improving on our techniques through ongoing research and partnerships with other scoliosis surgeons throughout the country.

What are you most excited about within your field right now?

We’re getting better at understanding which types of surgeries help which patients, how to apply various techniques and utilize less invasive procedures so patients get out of the hospital sooner and back to work and life faster. That’s the ultimate goal.  We are transitioning more and more surgeries to minimally invasive options with navigation, robotics and lateral access.  We want to fast forward the recovery process.

What are some of your personal research interests?

Scoliosis, clinical outcomes in spine surgery, workflow and efficiency.

You attended the Citadel and were in the military for some time. How do those experiences impact your practice?

I went to the Citadel with the plan of going directly into the military. It was a challenging, unique experience and I am a much better person having gone through it. After graduating, I ended up serving 12 years in the Army National Guard. Both experiences gave me structure, discipline, respect for others and a sense of teamwork that I carry with me today.

What attracted you to UVA?

UVA has a great history and reputation and I’m privileged to have the ability to continue to build on that. The resources are readily available here to give patients an optimal outcome. The leadership is great. We have excellent staff in place to get the job done. Top to bottom, a great team.

What has been you relationship with Chris Shaffrey, MD?

Dr. Shaffrey has been a huge mentor for me. I trained with him at UVA during my fellowship and I’ve always admired the way he treats patients. No one can fill his shoes, but hopefully we can continue building on the reputation he’s established here. He’s really set the bar high.

How is it being back where you trained?
It feels great.  There are a lot of excellent spine surgeons here, including Dr. Justin Smith who has also been a mentor of mine. I’m looking forward to working with him and continuing to learn from him.

How do you prefer referring providers communicate with you?

We want to make referrals as easy as possible. We have a referral line, but providers are welcome to reach out to me directly.

To refer a patient to UVA Neurosurgery, call 800.552.3723. To reach Dr. Buchholz directly, email alb8jp@virginia.edu.