top of page

BackTable / MSK / Podcast / Episode #18

Awake Spine Surgery

with Dr. Alok Sharan

In this episode, Dr. Jacob Fleming interviews Dr. Alok Sharan about low back awake spinal surgery. This innovative approach offers patients a more pleasant surgical experience compared to traditional surgery under general anesthesia. Not only does it provide better patient outcomes, but it also reduces the need for opioid pain medication and allows for improved mobility after the procedure.

Be part of the conversation. Put your sponsored messaging on this episode. Learn how.

Awake Spine Surgery with Dr. Alok Sharan on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Ep 18 Awake Spine Surgery with Dr. Alok Sharan
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, July 5). Ep. 18 – Awake Spine Surgery [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Free CME

Reflect on how this Podcast applies to your day-to-day and earn free AMA PRA Category 1 CMEs. Follow the button below to claim your credits on CMEfy.

BackTable CMEfy button

Stay Up To Date



Sign Up:

Podcast Contributors

Dr. Alok Sharan discusses Awake Spine Surgery on the BackTable 18 Podcast

Dr. Alok Sharan

Dr. Alok Sharan is the president of Spine and Performance Institute in Edison, New Jersey.

Dr. Jacob Fleming discusses Awake Spine Surgery on the BackTable 18 Podcast

Dr. Jacob Fleming

Dr. Jacob Fleming is a diagnostic radiology resident and future MSK interventional radiologist in Dallas, Texas.


Dr. Sharan began his career in academic medicine at Montefiore, where he gained valuable experience in caring for individuals with severe back problems requiring spine surgery. During his time at Montefiore, Dr. Sharan recognized the changing landscape of healthcare and decided to pursue a healthcare MBA. This unique combination of medical expertise and business knowledge led him to transition to private practice.

Dr. Sharan explains that awake spinal surgery offers several benefits for patients undergoing spine procedures. It enables patients to mobilize and recover from surgery more quickly, leading to faster overall recovery times and decreased risk of delirium. Additionally, patients have the opportunity to return home on the same day as the surgery, promoting a more convenient and comfortable experience. Awake spinal surgery also helps reduce the reliance on narcotics for pain management, with patients typically only needing narcotics for around four days compared to the usual four to six weeks with surgeries performed under general anesthesia. Due to the improvement in patient outcomes and the tremendous cost-efficiency of the procedure, awake spinal surgery is an appealing option for individuals requiring spinal fusions and other procedures.

Dr. Sharan's entrepreneurial drive has led him to create a comprehensive preoperative education program. His patients are provided with virtual reality headsets to simulate and experience the day of surgery and the actual surgical procedure. The aim is to alleviate any fears or anxieties the patients may have prior to undergoing surgery by immersing them in a realistic virtual environment. This approach helps to prepare patients mentally and emotionally, ensuring a smoother and more comfortable surgical experience. Dr. Sharan is now sharing his techniques with surgeons around the world and anticipates this technique being implemented in many fields in the future.


Transcript Preview

[Dr. Alok Sharan]
Right. At a very high level, awake spine surgery is using local and regional anesthesia to perform low back surgery, not neck surgery, but low back surgery. In my mind, what awake spine surgery represents is just the notion of not using general anesthesia and being able to really just precisely numb up the area that needs surgery, that area in particular. Then along with it, the whole notion of awake spine surgery is that by avoiding general anesthesia, by using just local and regional anesthesia, we're able to mobilize patients quicker and get them out of pain quicker so that their recovery is fast. We'll get into the details later, but at this point now, a spinal fusion surgery, which normally results in patients staying in the hospital for about two, three days, and they're on narcotics for four to six weeks. At this point now, when we do an awake spinal fusion, it takes us about an hour, hour and a half to do, and patients stay in the hospital for four hours, they go home the same day, and they're on narcotics for only about four days.

Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

Become a BackTable Sponsor

Up Next

Chilling Solutions: Cryoneurolysis in Clinical Practice with Dr. Aron Chary on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
SCS for Neuropathy: Clinical Insights & Patient Impact with Dr. Blake Parsons on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Kyphoplasty Evolution: Steering Toward Targeted Therapy with Dr. David Prologo on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies with Dr. Chris Beck on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
The Future of Interventional Spine Training with Dr. Majid Khan on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
New Frontiers in Spinal Tumor Ablation & Augmentation with Dr. Dana Dunleavy on the BackTable MSK Podcast)


Preparing Patients for Awake Spine Surgery: What to Expect Before, During & After

Preparing Patients for Awake Spine Surgery: What to Expect Before, During & After

Awake Spine Surgery: Advantages & Applications

Awake Spine Surgery: Advantages & Applications


Back Pain Condition Overview
Spinal Stenosis Condition Overview
Learn about Spine Surgery on BackTable MSK

Get in touch!

We want to hear from you. Let us know if you’re interested in partnering with BackTable as a Podcast guest, a sponsor, or as a member of the BackTable Team.

Select which show(s) you would like to subscribe to:

Thanks! Message sent.

bottom of page