Dr. Ralph Stanford MBBS FRACS PhD
Orthopaedic and Spine Surgeon
|Dr. Ralph Stanford
Dr Stanford is an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in surgery of the spine. He deals with all types of spine problems in adults and operates on all levels of the spine from the neck to the low back.
He graduated in medicine from the University of Tasmania in 1988 and completed advanced surgical training in orthopaedics with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2000. To further develop his skills, Dr Stanford undertook a spinal fellowship at the University Hospitals of Cleveland in the USA for one year.
Dr Stanford commenced practice as a specialist spine surgeon in 2001. He has appointments at the Prince of Wales and Prince of Wales Private Hospitals in Sydney, Australia. At the Prince of Wales Hospital he runs an outpatient clinic and is on the orthopaedic and spinal injury rosters.
During his advanced training, Dr Stanford researched bone-healing substitutes and was awarded a PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2002. He continues to conduct research and has a conjoint appointment as a Senior Lecturer with the University.
Dr Stanford is committed to delivering the highest quality service in management of your spine complaint. He allows 30 minutes for your initial consultation and provides individual attention and an analysis of the issues causing your back or neck problems.
Should you have any queries before or after your consultation with Dr Stanford, please feel free to discuss these with us, either at the time of your visit or by calling our office.
Possible treatment options for spine disorders
The wide variety of spine disorders means that treatments vary too. It is also true that any two people with the same disorder may be managed differently because of differences in severity of symptoms and other medical factors that are unique to each person. In fact, tailoring treatment options to the individual is an important part of managing spinal problems. So, what treatments may be recommended? The following list represents the most commonly used methods. It is important to emphasise that only a minority of people with spine disorders require surgery.
- Explanation - Often, simply understanding your condition is enough to relieve anxiety and enable you to see how to best manage the problem yourself
- Time - Time is the best healer. Many acute conditions of the spine resolve themselves in a matter of weeks, regardless of other treatments used. Again, reassurance is the key
- Rest - Rest is the natural response to pain, but it is beneficial for only a few days. After that, gentle activity prevents atrophy of muscles and a negative cycle of pain and weakness setting in
- Exercise - General fitness and weight control are always beneficial to well being. Walking and swimming are good ways to keep fit with back and neck problems. In some instances, concerted exercise programs are advised
- Physiotherapy - Physiotherapists provide their own assessment and management programs. In general, they choose between local modalities (massage, manipulation, ultrasound, traction etc) and exercises for mobility and strength of the spine and related joints. Some physiotherapy practices use heated pools to promote muscle strength with the soothing and supportive effects of water - hydrotherapy
- Medications - Simple pain relieving and anti-inflammatory agents are best. There is a wide choice of such agents to suit different people. Sometimes it is necessary to use specific medicines directed at nerve-derived pain
- Injections of cortisone - Pinched nerves and arthritic joints in the spine cause pain through inflammation. In some cases it is possible to inject cortisone around the affected structure in order to reduce inflammation. This can be used to treat symptoms in chosen situations and confirm the source of pain. Such injections are best done by radiologists or pain specialists using x-ray equipment to guide the needle to the right spot
- Braces and splints - These are most commonly used after injuries. Soft neck collars or elasticised lumbar braces may help simple neck or back pain for limited periods
- Surgery - Again, surgery is appropriate for only a small percentage of those with spine problems. Usually, it is used to relieve unremitting pain from pinched nerves or loss of function due to spinal cord compression. There are other, important reasons to operate, but these are less common. It must be understood that surgery has limitations and so the expectations of the person undergoing the procedure must match what is possible, rather than a wished for ideal. The important thing is that the decision to proceed to surgery is made after open discussion of the problem and the symptoms are understood from the perspective of the person with the pain
- Minimally invasive surgery - Also known as keyhole or minimal access surgery. Dr Stanford is trained in and uses these techniques when appropriate. A number of spinal conditions requiring surgery may be approached by minimal methods, but others are simply too complicated and can only be treated properly by traditional means
- Questions - Should you have any queries before or after your consultation with Dr Stanford, please feel free to discuss these with us, either at the time of your visit or by contacting us
Qualifications and experience
- Surgical Qualification
- Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, FRACS, 2000
- Tertiary Qualifications
- B.Med.Sci. 1985, University of Tasmania
- MB,BS. 1988, University of Tasmania
- PhD. 2002, University of New South Wales
- Honours and Awards
- Australian College of Occupational Medicine Prize, 1988
- Sir Roy McCaughey Surgical Research Fellowship: Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 1998
- Zimmer Perpetual Trophy: Australian Orthopaedic Association ASM, 1998
- Alan Frederick Dwyer Prize: Australian Orthopaedic Registrars Association ASM, 1998
- Rob Johnston Award: Spine Society of Australia ASM, 1999
- Additional Qualifications
- Early Management of Severe Trauma Certification: Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 1992
- AO Basic Course in Operative Management of Fractures and Non-Unions, 1992
- Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates Certification: 1992
- Laboratory Animal Care Certificate: University of New South Wales, 1997
- Good Laboratory Practice: Pharma Systems, 1997
- Spine and Spinal Cord Injury Fellowship, Case Western Reserve University Hospitals of Cleveland, 2000-2001
- Advanced Techniques in Spine Surgery, Medtronic, 2002
- Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, North American Spine Society, 2003
Services and Appointments
- Prince of Wales Private Hospital Sydney
- Prince of Wales Hospital Sydney
- Orthopaedic Staff Specialist
Department of Orthopaedics
Spine trauma roster
Orthopaedic general trauma roster
- University of NSW
- Senior Lecturer, Conjoint
- Outcome of Surgical Treatment of Spinal Cancer.
- Comparison of two methods of Lumbar Laminectomy
- Sterilisation Of Contaminated Bone-Tendon Grafts: methods using 10% Povidone-Iodine Solution. RE Stanford, M Solomon, M Levik, L Kohan and Prof S Bell.
Orthopedics (Thorofare) 22:6 June 1999
- Migration of a Knowle’s pin from the neck of femur to the knee joint. A case report. RE Stanford and L Kohan. Orthopedics (Thorofare) - 23:3 March 2000
- A novel, resorbable suture anchor: pullout strength from the human cadaver greater tuberosity. RE Stanford, J Harrison, J Goldberg, DH Sonnabend, M Alvis and WR Walsh. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2001 May-Jun;10(3):286-91
- Mechanical Analysis of Polyaxial Pedicle Screws: ASTM F1717. A Loefler, RE Stanford, PM Stanford, WR Walsh. Spine – accepted for publication
- Spinal Fusion Using an Autologous Growth Factor Gel and a Porous Resorbable Ceramic. Walsh WR, Loefler A, Nicklin S, Arm D, Stanford RE, Yu Y, Harris R, Gillies M. European Spine Journal. Accepted for publication 07/03
- Chau AM, Xu LL, van der Rijt R, Wong JH, Gragnaniello C, Stanford RE, Mobbs RJ. Reconstruction versus no reconstruction of iliac crest defects following harvest for spinal fusion: a systematic review. J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Jun;16(6):565-72. Epub 2012 Apr 13. PubMed PMID: 22500584.
- Stanford RE, Soden R, Bartrop R, Mikk M, Taylor TK. Spinal cord and related
injuries after attempted suicide: psychiatric diagnosis and long-term follow-up.
Spinal Cord. 2007 Jun;45(6):437-43. Epub 2007 Mar 6. PubMed PMID: 17339888.
- Stanford RE, Loefler AH, Stanford PM, Walsh WR. Multiaxial pedicle screw designs: static and dynamic mechanical testing. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2004 Feb 15;29(4):367-75. PubMed PMID: 15094532.