Department of Orthopaedic Surgery: Delivering World Class Orthopaedic Care
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Faculty Listing

William J. Richardson, MD

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Associate Chief Medical Officer, Duke University Hospital

Faculty Portrait

Orthopaedic Surgery


Mailing Address:
DUMC 3077 Durham, NC 27710


Office Telephone:


MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 1977

Spinal Surgery, Toronto General and Mount Sinai Hospitals (Canada), 1986-1987

Orthopaedics, Duke University Medical Center, 1982-1986

Clinical Interests:
Adult spine surgery, deformity, trauma, tumors, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, reconstructive surgery

Research Interests:
1. Current research includes investigation of biomechanical aspects of cervical injury with head impact. This involves cadaveric work with high-speed photography and load cells to ascertain the mechanism for spinal fractures.

2. An animal model is being used to evaluate the biomechanics of cervical laminectomy versus laminoplasty compared to the normal spine. A portion of the animals are developing myelopathy secondary to instability after the surgical procedure and this is being evaluated with MRI scanning as well as mechanical and radiographic testing.

3. Studies are being performed to develop an impedance pedicle probe to aid safe insertion of pedicular instrumentation in the lumbar spine. Ongoing studies are being performed to define the optimal frequency for the probe to yield the most sensitive and specific device. Hopefully this will lead to development of a device for human use. Studies will compare impedance probe to currently used EMG techniques to see if combing them will lead to greater sensitivity and specificity.

4. Studies are being completed on testing particular pull-out strength and doing a multi-varied analysis looking at size of the pedicle and bone density by two different techniques.

5. Current work is ongoing to develop an outcomes instrument and database to be used in the outpatient setting for patients with spinal complaints, both cervical and lumbar. The device will be used to evaluate clinical effectiveness for a variety of treatments for spinal conditions and to look at patient satisfaction issues.

Shah, AN; Pietrobon, R; Richardson, WJ; Myers, BS. Patterns of tumor spread and risk of fracture and epidural impingement in metastatic vertebrae. Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques. 2003;16:83-89.

Nightingale, RW; Winkelstein, BA; Knaub, KE; Richardson, WJ; Luck, JF; Myers, BS. Comparative strengths and structural properties of the upper and lower cervical spine in flexion and extension. Journal of Biomechanics. 2002;35:725-732.

Pietrobon, R; Coeytaux, RR; Carey, TS; Richardson, WJ; DeVellis, RF. Standard scales for measurement of functional outcome for cervical pain or dysfunction: a systematic review. Spine. 2002;27:515-522.

Speciale, AC; Pietrobon, R; Urban, CW; Richardson, WJ; Helms, CA; Major, N; Enterline, D; Hey, L; Haglund, M; Turner, DA. Observer variability in assessing lumbar spinal stenosis severity on magnetic resonance imaging and its relation to cross-sectional spinal canal area. Spine. 2002;27:1082-1086.

Whitehouse, JD; Friedman, ND; Kirkland, KB; Richardson, WJ; Sexton, DJ. The impact of surgical-site infections following orthopedic surgery at a community hospital and a university hospital: adverse quality of life, excess length of stay, and extra cost. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 2002;23:183-189.

Danisa, OA; Turner, D; Richardson, WJ. Surgical correction of lumbar kyphotic deformity: posterior reduction "eggshell" osteotomy. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2000;92:50-56.

Fields, MJ; Hoshijima, K; Feng, AH; Richardson, WJ; Myers, BS. A biomechanical, radiologic, and clinical comparison of outcome after multilevel cervical laminectomy or laminoplasty in the rabbit. Spine. 2000;25:2925-2931.

Fields, MJ; Hoshijima, K; Richardson, WJ; Myers, BS. Clinical outcome scales for use in a rabbit model of cervical myelopathy. Journal of Spinal Disorders. 2000;13:124-130.

Major, NM; Helms, CA; Richardson, WJ. The "mini brain": plasmacytoma in a vertebral body on MR imaging. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2000;175:261-263.

Matar, LD; Helms, CA; Richardson, WJ. "Spinolaminar breach": an important sign in cervical spinous process fractures. Skeletal Radiology: journal of radiology, pathology and orthopedics. 2000;29:75-80.

Winkelstein, BA; Nightingale, RW; Richardson, WJ; Myers, BS. The cervical facet capsule and its role in whiplash injury: a biomechanical investigation. Spine. 2000;25:1238-1246.

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