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Temple's first female spine surgeon is looking ahead as technology improves

Temple's first female spine surgeon has long been a trailblazer
Temple's first female spine surgeon has long been a trailblazer 02:15

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dr. Theresa Pazionis, a spine surgeon at Temple University Hospital, has been ahead of the curve for decades.

"I am the first and only female spine surgeon ever at Temple University Hospital," Pazionis said.

The 38-year-old surgeon has been a trailblazer since she was young. She took university classes in her second year of high school, which is when she graduated.

She started high school at age 12 and then zipped into college at 13.

"They identified at that point that I was gifted," she said. "A lot of people are gifted in different ways."

Pazionis took that intellectual gift into medicine, where she settled into orthopedics and then specialized in spinal oncology, where the technology is becoming very sophisticated.

"When we say hindsight is 20-20, we're actually building that hindsight now," she said. "Such as performing spinal deformity corrections with personalized implants, and some of the robotics and AI technology that we're bringing to Temple, or building the orthopedic oncology program so we can provide the best oncology orthopedics to North Philadelphia community."

The goal is "performing surgery that gives patients both longevity as well as their function back," she said. 

And while she's devoted to medicine, Pazionis has other interests including cooking and traveling.

Having accomplished so much so young, what does the future hold for Pazionis?

"I'm working on a 5- and 10-year career plan," she said.

Pazionis said the future of orthopedic oncology looks very promising with evolving technology allowing doctors to even better customize surgery.

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