Research programs

AO Spine sponsors innovative preclinical and clinical studies adhering to the highest standards. We generate knowledge that matters to our members and to our patients.

Meeting of the award-winning Scoli-RISK-1 study—a successful clinical trial collaboration between AO Spine and SRS

Clinical research

“AO Spine is the only truly global spine community. We endeavor to unite regions all over the world and motivate universal research participation.”

Dino Samartzis, Past Chairperson, AO Spine Research Commission

The AO Spine Knowledge Forums (KFs) are the engines of AO Spine clinical research. They perform evidence-based research and develop AO Spine classifications, staging of the disease, treatment guidelines, and outcome measures. 

The KFs meet regularly to discuss research, assess the best evidence for current practices, and formulate clinical studies to advance their field of spine expertise.

KF Tumor

Leading the way in spine oncology research—an international network of spine oncology centers committed to collaborative prospective multicenter research.

KF Deformity

Creating a common language and a framework for all parties with focus on both adolescent and adult deformity patients.

KF Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Building on worldwide partnerships for global impact—defining new treatment approaches to enhance outcomes for all SCI patients.

KF Trauma and Infection

Systematically bringing the world on the same page by developing simple, clinically useful, diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms.

KF Degenerative

Helping surgeons to make the best choice—increasing awareness of evidence supporting the use of different osteobiologic products.

Preclinical research

“Our mission is to advance orthopedic patient care through innovative research and development.”

Martin Stoddart, AO Research Institute Davos Program Head

AO Spine performs preclinical research in collaboration with the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI). The pre-clinical outcomes are brought to the AO Spine Knowledge Forums for clinical evaluation.

AO Spine’s preclinical research focus is on Regenerative Orthopaedics and postoperative spinal infection.

  • Regenerative Orthopaedics

    Currently, AO Spine sponsors three projects with the AO Research Institute Davos Regenerative Orthopaedics program focused on spine: 

    • Functional therapy for annulus fibrosus (AF) repair to reduce the disc re-herniation risk;
    • Evaluation of hyaluronan-based hydrogels for nucleus pulposus (NP) repair; and
    • Impact of the immune status on the susceptibility to postoperative spine infection.
    Annulus fibrosus defect organ culture model. A and B, cutting of operation window; C, creating of the defect through the AF and partial NP using a biopsy punch; D, filling of the defect with biomimetic hydrogel and/or functional cells; E and F, suturing of the operation window.
  • Postoperative Spinal Infection

    Postoperative surgical site infection is one of the most frequent and serious complications after spine surgery. Biomarkers that describe the patient’s immune status would be instrumental to evaluate the personal risk of each patient and take appropriate preventative measures. 

    AO Spine aims to identify parameters with significant variations between patients with postsurgical infection and patients with no complications. These parameters can be analyzed at a global scale to evaluate the individual patient’s infection risk, for precision medical care.

AO research institutes

AO Research Institute Davos (ARI)

This is where the scientists work to improve the performance of surgical procedures, devices, and substances.

Clinical research at the AO

How we cooperate across the entire organization to deliver high quality clinical research.

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Clinical tools

Start using clinical tools from AO Spine studies in your daily practice.

Research funding

AO Spine offers funding opportunities to support young researchers in studies relevant to spinal care.

Research training

Access AO resources designed for surgeons who want to learn to do research.