American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery (ABCSS)

The American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery (ABCSS) is a committee of the American Federation for Medical Accreditation offering certification to physicians who have demonstrated appropriate education, training, and knowledge (through written and oral examination) related to the specialty of clinical spinal surgery.

American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery

American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery (ABCSS) Board Certification

To ensure effective, safe, and ethical practice in the field of clinical spinal surgery, AFMA provides this specialized accreditation that certifies a practicing clinical spinal surgeon’s education, skills, clinical experience, and behavior.

Our ABCSS certification provides an integral service to hospitals, health systems, and medical groups, as well as to the community of clinical spinal surgeons, patients, and the public, allowing them to make intelligent and informed decisions regarding hiring, selection, and referral to clinical spinal surgeons.

Patients can be assured that an ABCSS board-certified clinical spinal surgeon has the specialized skills, education, clinical experience, and knowledge to practice in the field of clinical spinal surgery.

Complete details on the specific education, training, practice, and credentialing requirements for admission to sit for our ABCSS board certification examinations are available on our Become Certified page. This is where you can learn the requirements and apply for certification.

ABCSS written exam

The ABCSS certification examination is divided into two parts:

Part I:

A written examination that tests knowledge in basic science, clinical neuroscience, and the specialty of neurosurgery. The applicant needs to pass the written examination to be eligible for the oral examination. To pass the written examination the applicant needs to have 70 or more percent of correct answers.

The topics covered in the ABCSS certification examination include:

  • Anatomy and Neurophysiology
  • Pathology of the Spine
  • Evaluation and Diagnosis of Spinal Disorders
  • Surgical Treatment of the Spinal Column
  • Surgical Treatment of the Spinal Cord
  • Neurological and Functional Deficits
  • Surgical Techniques for Spinal Surgery
  • Spinal Instrumentation
  • Principles of Spinal Stabilization Using Instrumentation and Fusion
  • Principles of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
  • Principles of Adult Degenerative Spine Reconstruction
  • Principles of Pediatric Spine Surgery
  • Principles of Spine Deformity Correction
  • Principles of Surgical Oncology
  • Principles of Spine Trauma
  • Spinal Cord Surgery
  • Advanced Spinal and Peripheral Nerve Surgery
  • Non-Surgical Management of Spine Conditions
  • Quality and Safety
  • Radiology
  • Patient Management
  • Medical Ethics
  • Postoperative Care and Follow-up
  • Complications of Spinal Surgery
  • Pain Management
  • Orthobiologics
  • Neuromodulation
  • Endovascular Interventions

It is important to note that the ABCSS certification examination is regularly updated to reflect changes and new developments in the field of spine surgery.

Part II:

An oral examination that tests the candidate’s clinical judgment, diagnostic skills, and surgical skills in clinical spine surgery practice. Examination of a candidate’s knowledge and judgment typically includes questions regarding the diagnostics, management, medical decision making, preoperative evaluation, intraoperative technical and judgmental issues and post-operative management, including treatment of complications.

Our Mission

AFMA ensures that the certifications it offers for the American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery (ABCSS) Board Certification maintains high standards and appropriate internal policies and practices for the administration of examinations for board certification. AFMA’s American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery (ABCSS) Board Certification is intended to enhance the boards of other accreditation bodies and add an extra dimension that they may not be able to provide, traditionally or politically.

American Board of Clinical Spinal Surgery Officers

William Welch, MD

William Welch, MD



Craig Clark, MD

Craig Clark, MD



Tariq Lamki, MD

Tariq Lamki, MD