Dr. Stuart Hutchinson has served the Santa Barbara community as a spine specialist and surgeon since 1980. His grandfather was a doctor and his father was a prominent general surgeon in Seattle. As a child, it was clear to him that he wanted to follow the same path into the medical field.

Watching how his father treated people and how much his patients loved him, taught Dr. Hutchinson the importance of connecting with patients on a very human level. He believes that part of the art of medicine is to treat them with care and compassion, and to be sensitive to their needs. That means he takes time to listen carefully to his patients’ concerns and to discern whether issues in other areas — not always physical — are affecting the patient’s overall well-being and ability to heal.

During his 5 years of medical training in South Africa he learned that, given time, patients can often heal without surgery. Some situations require immediate surgery. It’s important to recognize those. But he favors a less invasive approach that steers away from the current trend of offering surgery as the first treatment option.

In 1985 Dr. Hutchinson teamed up with Dr. William Dunbar, to establish the first local center for orthopaedic surgeons who wanted to specialize in more focused areas, such as spine surgery or foot and ankle surgery. Their center grew into what is today Alta Orthopaedics.

Dr. Hutchinson draws inspiration and energy from nature and being outdoors. He likes to play golf and hike the beautiful Santa Ynez mountains. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Whitney, and Mount Rainer, and has snow skied in Utah and Colorado. Dr. Hutchinson’s family is close by in Southern California and Arizona.


Dr. Hutchinson has a deep personal connection to the world of volunteering. His father founded the non-profit Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center in Seattle, after his uncle, a Big League pitcher, died of lung cancer at age 45. Today it is renowned as one of the best cancer centers in the country and the best place in the world for bone marrow transplants. It has produced three Nobel prize winners over the last 20 years. Dr. Hutchinson serves on their Board of Ambassadors and MCs their annual fundraiser in Palm Springs.

Specialty within Spine Surgery: Kyphoplasty

Dr. Hutchinson was the first surgeon in the Tri-Counties to perform kyphoplasty to treat compression fractures of the spine. Today he is the only surgeon in Santa Barbara who uses this procedure. Pain goes away immediately and patients get great results. They can return to daily activities much more rapidly than with more invasive methods of treatment.

Professional Accomplishments

  • Participating physician in the Summer Olympics 1984

  • Co-founder of Orthopaedic Specialists, Santa Barbara, which later became Alta Orthopaedics

Education, Certifications and Memberships

  • Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Arizona.

  • Completed his medical training at the prestigious Stellenbosch University in South Africa where he spent 5 years

  • Certification by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, September 1982

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons since 1985

  • Active member of the North American Spine Society since 1985

  • Member of the South Africa Orthopedic Association since 1990