James Bernatz, MD

Dr. Bernatz is a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery. He is trained in state-of-the-art advancements in spine surgery including navigation, robotics and disc replacement. He treats all areas of the spine including cervical, thoracic and lumbar. He also treats conditions of the SI joint. He is board elegible in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Bernatz is committed to providing each patient with the most advanced and highest quality care possible.

  • Fellowship - Orthopedic Spine Surgery
    Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
  • Residency - Orthopedic Surgery
    University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
    Chief Resident (Elected)
  • Medical School
    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
    MD with Research Honor
Clinical Interests

Dr. Bernatz treats all conditins of the spine including arthritis, degenerative disk disease, disk herniations, scoliosis, trauma, tumors and infections.

Examples of procedures performed/conditions treated

  • Adult Deformity (Scoliosis)
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy
  • Cervical Laminoplasty
  • Complex Cervical Surgery
  • Complex Lumbar Surgery
  • Complex Thoracic Surgery
  • Degenerative Spine Disease
  • Diskectomy
  • Foraminal Stenosis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Kyphoplasty
  • Laminectomy
  • Lateral Interbody Fusion
  • Lateral Recess Stenosis
  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Myelopathy
  • Orthopedic Spine Surgery
  • Percutaneous Lumbopelvic Instrumentation
  • Percutaneous Spinal Instrumentation and Fusion
  • Radiculopathy
  • Revision Spine Surgery
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Tumors
  • Spine Disc Replacement (Arthroplasty)
  • Spine Fractures
  • Spine Trauma
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
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  • Spine Journal–Reviewer
  • AOA Emerging Leaders
  • Lumbar Spine Research Society
  • Academic Orthopedic Consortium
  • Mid-America Orthopaedic Association
  • North American Spine Society
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
  • Wisconsin Medical Society
Research Interests
  • Bone health analysis and optimization prior to spine surgery
  • Interbody fusion techniques and outcomes
  • Minimally invasive
  • Metastatic cancer of the spine
  • Quality improvement in spine surgery
  • Surgical education
  • Anderson PA, Binkley NC, Bernatz JT. Bone Health Optimization (BHO) in Spine Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2023 Mar 13. doi: 10.1097 Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36917718.
  • Bernatz JT, Fisher MWA, Pinter ZW, Sebastian AS. Controversies in Spine Surgery: Is i-Factor Superior to Bone Morphogenic Protein for Achieving Spine Fusion? Clin Spine Surg. 2023 Jan 19. doi: 10.1097 Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36727969.
  • Bukowski BR, Sandhu KP, Bernatz JT, Pickhardt PJ, Binkley N, Anderson PA, Illgen R. CT required to perform robotic-assisted total hip arthroplasty can identify previously undiagnosed osteoporosis and guide femoral fixation strategy. Bone Joint J. 2023 Mar 1;105-B(3):254-260. PMID: 36854330.
  • Chang E, Binkley N, Krueger D, Illgen R, Nickel B, Hennessy D, Bernatz J, Winzenried A, Anderson PA. Proposed bone health screening protocol to identify total knee arthroplasty patients for preoperative DXA. Osteoporos Int. 2022 Nov 3. doi: 10.1007/s00198-022-06585-7. PMID: 36326846.
  • Andersen L, Krueger D, Bernatz J, Binkley N, Anderson PA, Grogan B. Humeral BMD can be Measured With DXA and Is Lower in the Surgical Arm After Total Shoulder Arthroplasty. J Clin Densitom. 2022 Oct-Dec;25(4):448-455. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2022.08.005. Epub 2022 Aug 21. PMID: 36114106.
  • Hayden AC, Binkley N, Krueger D, Bernatz JT, Kadri A, Anderson PA. Effect of degeneration on bone mineral density, trabecular bone score and CT Hounsfield unit measurements in a spine surgery patient population. Osteoporos Int. 2022 Aug;33(8):1775-1782. doi: 10.1007/s00198-022-06407-w. Epub 2022 May 12. PMID: 35554615.
  • Chang E, Nickel B, Binkley N, Bernatz JT, Krueger D, Winzenried A, Anderson PA. A Novel Osteoporosis Screening Protocol to Identify Orthopedic Surgery Patients for Preoperative Bone Health Optimization. Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2022 Aug 6;13. PMID: 35967749
  • Bernatz JT, Johnson KP, Whiting PS, Williams SK. Personalized emails increase response rate in orthopaedic surgery survey research. Submitted for publication. JAAOS Global Research and Reviews.
  • Whiting P, Bernatz JT, Brooks A, Graf R, Doro C, Goodspeed D, Lang G. “Length of stay following geriatric hip fracture surgery: do physical therapy availability and day of surgery matter?" Submitted for publication. Journal of Orthopeadic Trauma.
  • Ho A, Samtani RG, Bernatz JT, Napier Z, O’Brien JR. Proximal junctional kyphosis following thoracolumbar fusion ending at the lower thoracic spine: the effect of cement augmentation. Accepted. Global Spine Journal.
  • Bernatz JT, Winzenried AE, Hare KJ, Mikula AL, Williams SK, Binkley NC, Anderson PA. Effect of Bone Health Optimization on Osteoporosis Screening and Treatment Before Thoracolumbar Fusion, JAAOS: Glob Res and Rev: Mar 2022 6(3) - e21.00253 doi: 10.5435/JAAOSGlobal-D-21-00253
  • Halanski MA, Bernatz JT, Noonan KJ, Sharafinski M. Sagittal plane deformities in children with SMA2 following posterior spinal instrumentation. Children. 2021, Aug 16;8(8):703. PMID 34438594
  • Mikula AL, St Jeor JD, Naylor RM, Bernatz JT, Patel NP, Fogelson JL, Larson AN, Nassr A, Sebastian AS, Freedman B, Currier BL, Bydon M, Kennel KA, Yaszemski MJ, Anderson PA, Elder BD. Teriparatide treatment increases hounsfield units in the thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, and ilium out of proportion to DEXA changes. Clin Spine Surg. 2021 Aug 1;34(7). PMID 34029261
  • Bernatz JT, Brooks AE, Nguyen BP, Shin ED, Binkley NC, Anderson PA, Grogan BF. Osteoporosis is common and undertreated prior to elective shoulder arthroplasty. J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2020 Dec 7;4(12). PMID 33986217
  • Bernatz JT, Johnson KP, Stokman JJ, Cannada LK, Williams SK, Whiting PS. Factors considered in ranking spine surgery fellowship applicants: a survey of program directors. Spine. 2021 Jan 8. doi: 10.1097 PMID: 33428366
  • Yasmeh S, Bernatz JT, Garrard E, Bice M, Williams SK. Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes of Lateral Interbody Fusion for Adjacent Segment Degeneration. Int J Spine Surg. 2021 Feb;15(1):74-81. doi: 10.14444/8010. Epub 2021 Feb 18. PMID: 33900959; PMCID: PMC7931741.
  • Schell TL, Krueger D, Binkley N, Hetzel S, Bernatz JT, Anderson PA. Opportunistic use of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to evaluate lumbar scoliosis. Arch Osteoporos. 2021 Feb 23;16(1):38. doi: 10.1007/s11657-021-00898-6. PMID: 33624177.
  • Bernatz JT, Anderson PA, Halanski MA. Cervical kyphosis in spinal muscular atrophy: a case report. JBJS Case Connector. 2020 Apr-Jun;10(2):e1900341.
  • Bernatz JT, Anderson PA, Grogan BF. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. JBJS Reviews. eLetter. January 2020.
  • Samtani RG, Bernatz JT, Halanski MA, Noonana KJ. Cervical spine injury following thoracic spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Cureus. 2019 Oct 5;11(10):e5840
  • Mikula AL, Puffer RC, Jeor JDS, Bernatz JT, Fogelson JL, Larson AN, Nassr A, Sebastian AS, Freedman BA, Currier BL, Bydon M, Yaszemski MJ, Anderson PA, Elder BD. Teriparatide treatment increases hounsfield units in the lumbar spine out of proportion to DEXA changes. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Oct;(18):1-6
  • Bernatz JT, Krueger D, Squire M, Illgen R, Binkley N, Anderson PA. Unrecognized osteoporosis is common in patients with a well functioning total knee arthroplasty. Journal of Arthroplasty. 2019 May;pii: S0883-5403(19)30524-8.
  • Bernatz JT, Brooks A, Squire M, Illgen R, Binkley N, Anderson PA. Osteoporosis is common and undertreated prior to total joint arthroplasty. Journal of Arthroplasty. 2019 Mar;(34):1347-53.
  • Samtani RG, Bernatz JT, Harrison R, Roy S, Gupta S, O’Brien J. The effect of alendronate on subsidence after lateral transpsoas interbody fusion (LLIF): a preliminary report. Int J Spine Surgery. 2019 Jun;13(3):289-295.
  • Prince JM, Bernatz JT, Binkley N, Abdel MP, Anderson PA. Changes in femoral bone mineral density after total knee arthroplasty: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Osteoporosis. 2019 Feb 23;14(1):23.
  • Anderson PA, Bernatz JT, Binkley N, Blank RD. Letter to the editor on “Choices, compromises, and controversies in total knee and total hip arthroplasty modifiable risk factors: what you need to know.” Journal of Arthroplasty. 2019 Feb 18;33(10):3101-3106.
  • Haines CM, Samtani RG, Bernatz JT, Abugideiri M, O’Brien JR. Far-lateral disc herniation treated by lateral lumbar interbody fusion without complete fragment excision: a case report and review of the literature. Cureus. 2018 Oct 2;10(10);e3404.
  • Bernatz JT, Safdar N, Hetzel S, Anderson PA. Antibiotic overuse is a major risk factor for Clostridium difficile infection in surgical patients. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. 2017 Oct;38(10):1254-1257.
  • Anderson PA, Bernatz JT, Safdar N. Clostridium difficile infection: an orthopaedic surgeon's guide to epidemiology, management, and prevention. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2017 Mar;25(3):214-223.
  • Bernatz JT, Tueting JL, Hetzel S, Anderson PA.What are the 30-day readmission rates across orthopaedic subspecialties? Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 2016 Mar;474(3):838-47.
  • Bernatz JT, Anderson PA. Thirty-day readmission rates in spine surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Neurosurgery: Neurosurgical Focus. 2015 Oct; 39(4):E7.
  • Bernatz JT, Tueting JL, Anderson PA. Thirty-day readmission rates in orthopedics: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2015 Apr;10(4):e0123593.
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East Madison Hospital

Phone: (608) 265-3207

1 S. Park St. Medical Center

Phone: (608) 287-2000

Science Dr Medical Center

Phone: (608) 265-3207

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Administrative Assistant

Angela Riesing