What Dr. Bradford Curt likes about his job is his ability to help people.

“When I do a good job, people feel better and can go back to doing what they want to do,” says Dr. Curt, a neurosurgeon with Mayfield Clinic.

Founded in 1937, the Mayfield Clinic is one of the world’s largest neurosurgical physician practices, treating 20,000 patients in a typical year from all over the globe. Mayfield’s 22 neurosurgeons, several whom serve the Dayton and Cincinnati region, and other specialists handle about 14,000 procedures annually in virtually every aspect of neurosurgery.

Dr. Curt, who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, says innovations in minimally invasive tools and techniques allow surgeons to make smaller and smaller incisions, causing less muscle and tissue damage, less blood loss and less pain for patients, while enabling quicker recoveries and shorter hospital stays.

“For example, in a disc herniation, where we remove the disc, we can now do that as an outpatient operation with minimal blood loss using a microscope and an incision of less than an inch to get where we need to be,” Dr. Curt says.

“[It’s] the same with lumbar fusions. We’re using smaller and smaller incisions and doing one or two incisions and using tubes and cameras through these ports without disturbing a lot of muscle area,” he says.

While he’s trained in both minimally invasive and traditional surgical techniques, Dr. Curt says most of Mayfield’s patients never see an operating room.

“About 80 percent of the people we see don’t have surgery,” he says. “We’re going to recommend injections and medications and physical therapy long before we consider surgery.”

And while minimally invasive techniques are usually preferred, sometimes traditional open surgery is a better approach.

“In really progressive scoliosis, where the patient has a big curve in their spine and they are getting a lot of nerve compression, then you’d have one large incision where you’re doing a lot of work,” he says. “If you’re affecting large chunks of the spine, that may be a problem better suited for a traditional [surgical] approach.”

Mayfield employs technology in other ways. One is its Priority Consult system, which allows its physicians to remotely review images and make treatment recommendations without patients coming to one of its 10 offices.

“Nobody wants to drive a couple hours to get the same recommendation they had from another surgeon,” Dr. Curt says, “But if there is a different option out there, we can indicate it over the Internet and give you a reason to come see us.”

Besides its clinical care, the Mayfield Clinic is known for education and research. Fourteen of its neurosurgeons are on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s department of neurosurgery, and Mayfield physicians have pioneered a number of advances in neurosurgical instrumentation and technology over the years. “We’re always looking for better techniques and ways to improve the procedures we have,” he says.

Dr. Curt says Mayfield’s freedom as an independent practice allows it to make those kinds of decisions.

“It gives us the freedom to make the best decisions for our patient,” he says.