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Specialization Matters Whether it’s Time to Fix your Ferrari 458 Italia or your Brain

Ferrari 458 Italia

Consider the Ferrari 458 Italia. Its V8 engine offers 125 horsepower for every one of its 4.5 liters. It’s more than a car – it’s a feat of engineering. Imagine you are one of the few to own this, or any, Ferrari (or maybe you don’t have to imagine – lucky you). Do you trust it with the mechanic on the corner who takes care of every make and model that pulls into his garage?

No. Of course not. You find someone who is an expert on every detail of the Ferrari. Something so valuable requires specialization.

Neurosurgeons at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital modeled their practice after this concept. Subspecialty teams cover every imaginable nuance of neurosurgery. Each patient receives care from doctors whose daily focus is their precise problem.

This was the vision of former Head of Columbia’s Neurosurgery Department, Dr. Bennett M. Stein. An expert on European sports cars, Dr. Stein appreciated the intricacy and care required to restore these classic automobiles. This natural inclination for excellence made him a great with cars and in the operating room.

Recognizing the importance of creating a department built on these principles, Dr. Stein set a standard for the department before handing off the reins to the current Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. Robert Solomon. He built the team of hand-picked neurosurgeons that Columbia Neurosurgery is known for today and saw to it that each surgeon was the best in their narrow fields of sub-specialization.

“As Stein said, practice makes perfect,” says Dr. Michael Sisti, James G. McMurtry Associate Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery. “The sub-specialization of our neurosurgeons has been shown to yield improved outcomes for patients, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays. Bruce Lee once said, ‘Fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks. Fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times.’

The excellent results offered by Columbia Neurosurgeons alone are enough to recommend this approach. But new research that confirms the specialty model offers advantages for the treatment of certain brain tumors.

The February 2015 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery published the study performed by teams from Salford Royal Hospital and Imperial College London. Patients in the study had glioblastomas or anaplastic astrocytomas, highly dangerous brain tumors. General neurosurgeons treated roughly half the patients. Specialists treated the other half. These specialists devoted at least half of their time to surgical neurooncology. The results were clear – patients treated by the specialists had a larger amount of tumor removed and survived longer.

The Brain Tumor Center at Columbia is an excellent example of this type of specialized care. The team focuses solely on brain tumors to provide the most advanced care and skill to patients.

Patients who choose The Brain Tumor Center receive care based on state-of-the-art of scientific knowledge. But more than that, they receive care from the physicians whose research generates that knowledge.

They receive care from the physicians who teach other physicians.

They receive care from the doctors that other doctors choose when they have a brain tumor.

It’s a smart choice. After all, a brain is far more valuable than some old Ferrari.

Learn more about the specialists here at Columbia Neurosurgery:

patient journey

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