Springfield Spinal Unit

If you need a spinal surgeon in Chelmsford or a spinal surgeon in Essex and beyond, the consultant neurosurgeons of the Springfield Spinal Unit offer a vast amount of experience and expertise, bringing a combined consultant neurosurgical practice to their Springfield patients of approaching 40 years.

For more than 12 years a huge number of neurosurgical spinal procedures have been completed at Springfield Hospital. Two of the consultant neurosurgeons, Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu FRCS and Mr John Wadley FRCS are the senior neurosurgeons in their respective Regional Neuroscience Units, at Queen’s Hospital Romford and St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospitals respectively. Mr Wadley is also honorary consultant neurosurgeon to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford where he runs a specialist Outreach Clinic. A third neurosurgical colleague will soon join them in the unit.

The consultant neurosurgeons are active members, and indeed founder members, of both the East Anglian Spinal Network and the East London and Essex Spinal Network, ensuring the highest levels of colleague interaction, training and education, and clinical governance.

Further focusing upon the highest standards and excellence in clinical governance, all patients undergoing neurosurgical spinal procedures for more than five years at Springfield Hospital have had their data entered to the national British Spine Registry (BSR).

Neurosurgery is a super-speciality within surgery, providing specialist brain and spine surgical procedures, with the consultants in the NHS based in large Regional Neuroscience Units with 12 or more consultants.

In terms of the spinal operations performed at the Springfield Spinal Unit, neurosurgery focuses upon:

  • Minimally invasive surgical approaches with small incisions.
  • The constant use of a sophisticated operating microscope, to enable minimally invasive approaches and maximise good outcomes, and associated with extremely low rates of complications. The Springfield Spinal Unit utilises a specialist Zeiss neurosurgical microscope.
  • An emphasis on micro-neurosurgical skills and minimally invasive surgical equipment, including the Midas Rex high-speed drill and micro-instruments.
  • A respect for delicate patient anatomy and a minimisation of tissue handling.
  • Avoidance of overtly traumatic and non-evidenced-based procedures, such as ‘fusion’ or instrumentation of the lower spine with screws, particularly to try to treat musculoskeletal low back pain.
  • All of this leads to a high rate of excellent outcomes, usually only an overnight stay in hospital, and a rapid and supervised return to normal levels of activity during the period of recovery and recuperation.


The majority of neurosurgical procedures performed at the Springfield Spinal Unit are for various manifestations of degenerative disease of the spine, known as spondylosis. This principally affects the neck (cervical spine) and the lower back (lumbosacral spine) and most operations aim to relieve nerve root or spinal cord compression causing neurological symptoms in either the upper limbs (brachalgia) or the lower limbs (sciatica). Upon occasion more rare pathologies such as spinal tumours, vascular malformations, or congenital anomalies such as Chiari malformations may be encountered, but in more complex cases, the neurosurgeons may well arrange these operations in their respective Regional Neuroscience Units.

The consultant neurosurgeons in the Springfield Spinal Unit have steadily grown the practice over more than a decade to its present level of activity and very high reputation, and indeed an NHS England ‘GIRFT’ (‘Getting It Right First Time’) detailed unit inspection in 2018 of the neurosurgical practice resulted in the highest possible assessments in most categories.

The extensive practice of the consultant neurosurgeons is complemented by up-to-date sophisticated imaging with MRI and CT scanning at Springfield, as well as state-of-the-art and sophisticated equipment in the operating theatres such as the Zeiss operating microscope and specialist instruments. Over the last 12 years or so the neurosurgeons and Springfield Spinal Unit has also built up a highly experienced team of spinal theatre staff, excellent and experienced nurses, and an expert team of spinal physiotherapists for postoperative therapies and rehabilitation.

Neurosurgical spinal practice also involves close interaction with consultant colleagues in other disciplines, in particular Neuroradiologists to report imaging modalities, and specialist Pain Management Consultants, part of the holistic approach to spinal pathologies at the Springfield Spinal Unit. Pain Management Consultants deal with other aspects of spinal problems not responsive to neurosurgery, in particular musculoskeletal low back pain, and this holistic approach may include combinations of various medication, therapies, and sometimes interventions in the form of various types of spinal injection treatment.

The neurosurgeons are also very fortunate to enjoy the constant help of highly experienced personal assistants, who guide their patients through every stage of treatment including initial appointments, scheduling of surgery and interaction with patient’s insurance companies, arrangements for post-operative review by the consultant neurosurgeons, and therapies if these are required.

The neurosurgeons in the Springfield Spinal Unit welcome private referrals from a wide geographical area, are recognised by all the major insurance companies, and also are very happy to see patients who wish to self-pay for their care.

Content reviewed by:

Mr John Wadley, Consultant Neurosurgeon

Mr John Wadley MB ChB FRCS FRCS(SN) is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Springfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex specialising in spinal surgery.

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