Columbia University Medical Center /
Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery
PH - 11
622 West 168th Street
New York NY 10032

ColumbiaDoctors | Midtown
51 West 51st Street, Suite: 370
New York, NY 10019
Appointments: (212) 932-5100

Dr. K. Daniel Riew

Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in NYC
Co-Chief, Spine Division, Director of Cervical Spine Surgery and Co-Director of the Columbia Spine Fellowship

He specializes in:

  • Spine Surgery— Orthopedic
  • Cervical Spine Surgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
background + focus areas

About Dr. riew

Dr. Riew is a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in NYC. He is also the Co-Chief, Spine Division, Director of Cervical Spine Surgery and Co-Director of the Columbia Spine Fellowship. He joined the Columbia Faculty in July of 2015. Previously, he was at Washington University in St. Louis where he was the Mildred B. Simon Distinguished Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Neurological Surgery and Chief of Cervical Spine Surgery.

Education & Background

Dr. RiewDr. Riew graduated from Harvard College, where he was awarded the Class Ames Award for Character and Leadership; and from Case Western Reserve University Medical School, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honorary medical society for top students in his junior year. He finished residency in Internal Medicine at Cornell Medical Center and Orthopedics at George Washington University. He then completed fellowship training under the world-renowned cervical spine surgeon, Dr. Henry Bohlman in Cleveland. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine as well as Orthopaedic Surgery.

In 1995, he was recruited by Washington University School of Medicine to start the cervical spine service in the newly formed Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Starting with only a dozen or less cervical procedures in 1994, he developed it into one of the largest cervical spine practices in the world. His practice is exclusively devoted to the operative treatment of the cervical spine, a rarity among spine surgeons.

Research & Awards

He is active in research and has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers and over 60 chapters and other manuscripts. He has received multiple outstanding research paper awards from the Cervical Spine Research Society and the North American Spine Society, as well as the Hibbs Outstanding paper award from the Scoliosis Research Society. He has operated in several countries and has served as a visiting professor, grand rounds speaker, key or named lecturer over 100 times in more 19 countries on six continents. He has served and has been the Director or Chair of over 35 surgical courses, including those sponsored by the Cervical Spine Research Society, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, North American Spine Society and the Scoliosis Research Society. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Cervical Spine Research Society and was President from 2012-13. He also serves on the board of AOSpine International, served as its International Research Commission Chair (2012-15) and currently is the Chair of the International Board (2015-18). He is a member of the American Orthopaedic Association, the Interurban Orthopedic Club, and the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons, all honorary orthopaedic societies. He serves as a Deputy or Associate Editor of the Global Spine Journal, Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery, Spine, and Neurosurgery journals.

Clinical Honors: He has been recognized in the lists of America’s Top Doctors and Best Doctors in America since 2002. He is also listed as a Vitals Top 10 Doctor (top 1%, based on patient ratings and reviews).

Orthopedics This Week Journal's Top 28 Spine Surgeons in North America 2012, 2013: “He is an outstanding surgeon, teacher, and researcher. He is a leader in the cervical spine world, has done great research in this area, and has great vision. If someone says, ‘cervical spine surgery,’ you think of Dan.”

Top 18 Spine Surgeons in North America 2014: “A brilliant cervical spine surgeon, he has defined many of the techniques we are utilizing. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally, improving the treatment of these disorders in other portions of the globe.”

Many prominent surgeons from all over the world have recognized him as a leader in cervical spine surgery (Click here to see comments they made about him). 

Board Certifications

American Board of Internal Medicine, 1987; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997; Recertified, 2008.

Medical Degree

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine


  • Internal Medicine, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center
  • General Surgery, Beth Israel Medical Center
  • Orthopaedic Surgery, George Washington University Medical Center


  • Cardiology, Cornell Medical Center
  • Biomechanics Research, Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Spine Surgery, Case Western Reserve University

Inspiration and interests

What happened in the course of schooling to make you choose your specialty?

When I was in medical school, I decided to become an orthopedic surgeon because I enjoyed working with my hands and surgery seemed to be a fun and interesting specialty. But then in my fourth year, I did a rotation in cardiology, which I enjoyed so much that I decided to become a cardiologist instead. I trained in Internal Medicine and was about to do a cardiology fellowship when I realized I really missed orthopedic surgery. So I changed my mind yet again and went back into training to become an orthopedic surgeon. One benefit of all this extra training is that I am double boarded in Internal Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, and my medicine background helps me in taking care of my surgical patients.

What aspect of your practice is most interesting?

The most challenging cases are those patients who have had multiple operations or those who have very bad deformities of the cervical spine. Often these people have had deformities for many years, or have had multiple operations and have been told that there is nothing more that can be done for them. They often travel long distances to get to St. Louis and are very grateful when we are able to fix their problem.

Do patients from around the world come for a consultation?

We have treated patients from Europe, South America, the Middle East, Far East, and India. I’ve also traveled to other countries to see patients, as well as to do operations. We also see patients from many different parts of the US.

What developments in your field are you most excited about?

There are two things. One is a substance called BMP which stands for Bone Morphogenetic Protein. BMP is a substance which the body naturally makes to heal bone. Commercial laboratories have purified and have mass produced BMP so now we can use it to markedly improve bone healing rates. In the past, we would have used a portion of bone from a patient's pelvis to heal the spine. Now we can use BMP, so they do not need a second operation to harvest bone. This results in a lot less pain and disability, and allows patients to return to normal faster. This advance has been around for about five years, and has really revolutionized the way we do some complex operations.

The second thing I’m excited about is the artificial cervical disc replacement. This will allow us to treat some patients with a motion-preserving procedure, instead of a fusion of the neck.

Which particular award or achievement is most gratifying to you?

Professional awards and achievements are nice, but undoubtedly, the thing I am most proud of is my family. None of my successes would be worth much without them. My wife, Mary, and I have three children, who have been the greatest source of joy for both of us.

During the first several years of my career, I worked most of my waking hours, but over the last several years I’ve learned how to manage my time better, and am now spending more and more time with my wife and children. All three kids are loving and truly enjoy being together.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the United States when I was seven. My family lived in Detroit for one year, and then I grew up in Akron, Ohio. I have two older sisters. One lives in Michigan and the other in Ohio.

Quotes from leading spine surgeons about Dr. Riew

Hundreds of spine surgeons have visited him over the past 20 years to observe his operations. Here is what some leading spine surgeons from all over the world say about Dr. Riew:

"Professor Riew is by far the best cervical spine surgeon in the world and defies all comparison in the surgical management of cervical spine disorders. He has an extremely high reputation even in European and Asian countries and has been invited to educate cervical spine surgeons in these areas several hundred times. He does not have only unbelievable surgical skills like “God’s hands” and admirably innovative academic ideas but also a wonderful personality. He is the one and only surgeon who I would let operate on my neck, should I need cervical spine surgery"

Jin S. Yeom, M.D., Ph.D.
- Professor and Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,
- Seoul National University Bundang Hospital
- Chairman, Spine Center, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital
- President, Cervical Spine Research Society Asia Pacific Section (CSRS-AP)

"Dr. Dan Riew is an authority in the field of Cervical Spine Surgery whose expertise, knowledge, clinical acumen and surgical skills are recognized worldwide. He has many original contributions, which are published and cited widely in international journals. His surgical skills attract patients from all over the world and I am personally aware of numerous complex cases from this part of the world successfully treated by him. He has been a visiting professor to our unit in Ganga hospital and been a faculty for operative courses in India, where numerous surgeons have witnessed and learnt from his experience. He would be my first choice should I or a close family member of mine need any surgery in the cervical spine."

Professor S. Rajasekaran, Ph.D., FRCS
- Chairman, Dept. of Orthopaedic & Spine Surgery, Ganga Hospital
- Adjunct Professor, Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University.
- Hunterian Professor, Royal College of Surgeons of England,2011-12
- Chair , AOSpine International Research Commission
- President Elect, SICOT
- Past President, Indian Orthopaedic Association
- Past President, Association of Spine Surgeons of India
- Past President, ISSLS

"Dan Riew is 'The Cervical Spine Maestro". He has transformed Cervical Spine Surgery into an art form. His impact on spine surgeons worldwide has been phenomenal. If ever my very own neck needs surgical help, Dan would surely be my man!"

Professor Amer Aziz
- Chief of Orthopaedic Spine Surgery
Lahore Medical and Dental College
- University of Health Sciences
Lahore, Pakistan

"Dr. Riew is considered among the top surgeons in the world when it comes to cervical spine. His contributions exceed patient care into teaching other surgeons modern cervical spine surgery. I would trust him not only with my patient, but also with me, should I require cervical surgery."

Abdulrazzaq Alobaid MD. FRCSC.
- Chief of spine surgery - Kuwait
- Chairman of Kuwait Spine society
- Chief of Orthopedic Casualties, Alrazi Hospital - Kuwait
- Chairman of Faculty Orthopedics & Post Graduate Training 
(KIMS) Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization

"Dr. Riew is the most specialized surgeon for cervical spine surgery that I have ever met in the world. He has been my kind and respected teacher for ten years and has instructed me to become one of the most specialized cervical spine surgeons in China. As a leader and former President of Cervical Spine Research Society, he has been a Creative, Specialized, Respected and Successful (CSRS) surgeon for thousands of cervical spine patients. Dr. Riew has also been a CSRS (Creative, Specialized, Respected and Successful) instructor for hundreds of peers all over the world."

Hongxing Shen, M.D., Ph.D
- Chief of Cervical Spine Surgery & Professor of Orthopedic Surgery
- Chairman of Spine Surgery
- Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine 
The Renji Hospital

"A teacher with an in depth knowledge in his field, a mentor always ready to guide and motivate, a surgeon with excellent skills and finesse and above all, a human I would want to emulate! Having travelled and visited surgeons across the globe I, feel that, in the domain of cervical spine, Dr. Riew is the authority!"

Dr. Gaurav Raj Dhakal
- Spine Surgeon

"Dr. Dan Riew is a great teacher, whose contribution to spine surgery in the Middle East is enormous. We had the honor to host him in our spine meeting in Qatar. He is very humble and provides excellent care and support to his patients and his team, as well as surgeons all over the world."

Dr Abdulaziz Alkuwari
- Consultant Spine Surgeon 
- Hamad Medical Corp.
- Bone and Joints Institute

"Prof Riew is considered one of the foremost cervical spinal surgeons across the globe with his surgical skill and expertise only exceeded by his pleasant disposition. No complicated cervical spine case is complete without his highly valued advice."

Prof A. J. Vlok
- Consultant Neurosurgeon and Head of Department Neurosurgery
University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Academic Hospital
South Africa

"I've known Dr. Daniel Riew for well over a decade. Dan is an accomplished and internationally recognized leader, highly experienced and passionate cervical spine surgeon. He is a role model for surgeons all around the world with his dedication to patient care, education and research. He is a precious friend with a wonderful smile and warm-hearted attitude, definitely a surgeon you would trust with the lives of your loved ones."

Ahmet Alanay MD
- Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
- Pediatric and Adult Spinal Disorders
- Acibadem University School of Medicine
- Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
- Comprehensive Spine Center
- Acibadem Maslak Hospital
Istanbul, Turkey

"Dr. Riew was highly recommended to me by a close friend who was a spine surgeon also.  Since then Dr. Riew has operated on my wife, sister in law, and nephew, all with excellent results. I would choose him if I were to need cervical spine surgery as my first and only choice."

M. Robert Ching 
- Orthopedic Surgeon 
Oroville, California

"Dr. Riew is internationally recognised as a leader in the Cervical Spine area. As surgeon and educator he brings enormous benefit to spinal surgeons' community around the world, thus improving patient care."

Dr. Luiz Roberto Vialle
- Professor of Orthopedics, School of Medicine
- Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná
Curitiba Brazil

"Dr. Riew is an esteemed colleague and is considered one of the most highly specialized and experienced cervical spine surgeons in the world. He is a respected educator and member of the spine scientific community, with numerous outstanding publications. He has also undertaken strong leadership positions in some of the most influential societies, such as President of the Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS), and President of AOSpine. I would not hesitate to let him operate on a family member, should they need spine surgery."

Claudio Lamartina, M.D.
- Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon
- Deputy Editor of European Spine Journal
- EFM Professor of Orthopaedic Specialization School, Milan University
and Neurosurgery Specialization School, Turin University
- Chair GSpine4 and Director of Spinal Research Program
- I.R.C.C.S. - Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi
Milan, Italy

"Dr. Riew is an internationally well-known cervical spine surgeon. He has had great impact on the care and treatment of adult and pediatric patients with cervical spine pathology. He is able to combine expertise, passion, empathy and close attention and care in treating patients. He is a leader in educating tomorrow’s Orthopedic and Neurosurgical spine surgeons. I would not hesitate to recommend him to people who need a cervical spine specialist."

Asdrubal Falavigna, M.D.
- Dean of Medical School at Caxias do Sul University, Brazil
- Neurosurgery Department

"Dr. Riew is a top renowned cervical spine surgeon. He may be the only one who only does cervical spine surgery in the entire world. His specialization and professionalism have won him the respect and admiration of many young physicians. He is the first-choice physician for those who need cervical spine surgery."

Xiang-Yang Ma, MD & PhD
- 2014 China Top Ten Middle-aged Orthopedic Surgeons
- Director of the Spine Surgery Department & Professor of Orthopedics surgery
- Orthopedic Hospital of Guangzhou General Army Hospital

"There is no doubt that Dan is the best cervical spine surgeon there is currently. Besides being a great friend, he has a great devotion to share his knowledge through a variety of educational activities around the world for the benefit of a lot of surgeons and patients."

Dr. Roberto Chapa Sosa
- Ortopedia - Cirugía de Columna
- Hospital Christus Muguerza
Monterrey, N.L. México

"Dr. Riew is widely considered to be the top cervical spine surgeon in the world. He has greatly impacted the care and treatment of all kinds of cervical spine patients and has had a leading role in educating the next generation of both Orthopedic and Neurosurgical spine surgeons. He has also been sharing his experience with not only US spine surgeons but also spine surgeons worldwide. He is a globally well-known best surgeon and teacher."

Yu SUN, M.D.
- Chief Specialist Spine Surgeon
- Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery
- Head of Cervical Section
- Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
- Institute of Spine Surgery
Peking University Third Hospital
Beijing, China; Monterrey, N.L. México

"My time visiting Dr. Riew was a great chance for me to meet and learn from him. It had a great impact on my practice. He is a great spine surgeon and he will have an impact on the future generations of neuro and ortho surgeons."

Dr. Baher Labib
- Consultant Neurosurgeon
- Alexandria University

"Daniel Riew represents for me the model cervical spine surgeon. I've known him for a long time and spent time with him in the USA and all over the world when he was President of the CSRS (Cervical Spine Research Society) and I was President of CSRS-ES (Cervical Spine Research Society – European Section). As a speaker, he is clear, didactic and brings huge personal experience with spinal surgery. But most of all, I appreciate his honesty, ability to share personal experience, different from what can be acquired from publications, and free of  any conflicts of interest. As a surgeon, through publications on techniques and surgical courses that are internationally well-known, he proves his brightness, his skill and his intelligence in decision-making and appropriate indications. And to conclude, he is a charming person, very warm and very close to his patients."

Philippe Bancel, MD
- Past President of the Cervical Spine Research Society-European Section
- Member of the French National Academy of Surgery
- Orthopedic Spine and Trauma Surgeon
- Gpe Hospital Cochin Saint Vincent de Paul
Paris, France

"I met Dr. Riew more than 15 years through his cervical spine publications; he has always been a reliable reference. His speeches in conferences always surprise the audience very positively by adding quality and elegance. Indisputably he is one of the best specialists worldwide in this field."

J. Casamitjana
- CSRS-EU Former President (2009-2011)
- Former Chief of Cervical Spine Pathology at Hospital Valle Hebron of Barcelona
- Spine Unit Quiron Teknon Hospitals Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain