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Winter 2018: Highlights from CU Neurosurgery

A forrest of tall snow-covered fir trees

Our neurosurgeons have had yet another busy and memorable season here at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Here are some of the stories that were highlights this winter:

1. The Making of a Neurosurgeon: Dr. Robert Solomon

Everyone has a story to tell. In our series The Making of a Neurosurgeon, we share the unique journey of each of our Columbia neurosurgeons. Early motivations, career decisions and passion for the work are all laid out.

The latest installment in the series focuses on Department Chair Dr. Robert Solomon, and his story is anything but ordinary. It begins with a young Solomon at a crossroads: Should he pursue medicine or art?

As you may predict, Dr. Solomon chose medicine. Then, serendipitously, a bittersweet event steered him toward neurosurgery. When he became a neurosurgeon at Columbia, his superiors took notice. He began pioneering new ways to treat the sickest patients—and saved countless lives. Later, upon becoming Department Chair, Dr. Solomon helped form a truly one-of-a-kind department equipped to solve some of the toughest cases in neurosurgery.

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2. Brain Surgery Safety Now and in the Future: Dr. Marc Otten Talks to Westchester Magazine

Brain surgery has made incredible strides over the years. Today, neurosurgeons can safely perform procedures previously not thought possible. Much of this is due to increasingly sophisticated technology.

Dr. Marc Otten, Director of Columbia Neurosurgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Lawrence, was recently interviewed by Westchester Magazine about the latest technological advances and the future of brain surgery.

One advance he noted is technology that links MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) images of the brain to equipment in the operating room. Imaging the brain this way lets Dr. Otten perform minimally invasive procedures, which usually do not require large incisions and are safer than opening the skull to access the brain.

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3. In Neurosurgery, What You Don’t Do Matters, Too

Removing brain tumors can be tricky. Remove too much and risk damage to nerves and brain tissue. Remove too little and the tumor may grow back. Striking the right balance has been a challenge in particular for the treatment of meningiomas that grow in an area of the brain called the cerebellopontine angle (CPA). But we have new research that can help.

Dr. Michael Sisti and his colleagues recently did a study that offers recommendations for how best to treat this type of tumor. And at the heart of the study is Dr. Sisti’s own work. Dr. Sisti has been treating CPA meningiomas for 25 years, so the study authors reviewed his cases from that time span to construct recommendations.

The study—and Dr. Sisti’s contribution to the field of neurosurgery—was featured on the front cover of the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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4. Dr. Christopher Winfree Teaches Neurosurgeons in Serbia

Columbia Neurosurgery is unique in many ways, one being that each of our neurosurgeons is highly specialized. There’s a neurosurgeon for brain tumors, another for aneurysms, and the list goes on.

Dr. Christopher Winfree, Director of the Peripheral Nerve Center at Columbia, is an expert on diagnosing and treating peripheral nerve disorders. Because of his expertise, Dr. Winfree is highly sought after as a speaker. He speaks regularly in the United States and abroad to teach other neurosurgeons about the neurosurgical techniques he uses here at Columbia.

Recently, Dr. Winfree flew to Belgrade, Serbia, to speak at the second annual Theoretical, Practical & Hands-on International Course in Peripheral Nerve and Brachial Plexus Surgery.

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5. Improving the Approach to Stroke Treatment

The way we treat stroke has come a long way. Forty years ago, patients who had suffered a stroke had little hope for improvement. Thanks to diligent researchers, and newly established treatment guidelines (explained by Dr. Sean Lavine), our knowledge now allows more patients than ever before to survive.

Another member of the Columbia Neurosurgery team, Dr. Philip Meyers has helped advance stroke treatment, and as a neurointerventionalist, he is uniquely suited to treat stroke. A neurointerventionalist uses advanced neuroimaging techniques to view the brain, spinal cord and blood vessels.

Most recently, Dr. Meyers collaborated on a research study that uncovered key factors linked to better outcomes after stroke. One of those factors is the skill of the neurointerventionalist.

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Learn more about these Columbia neurosurgeons at their bio pages below.

Dr. Robert Solomon, Department Chair
Dr. Philip Meyers
Dr. Marc Otten
Dr. Michael Sisti
Dr. Christopher Winfree

patient journey

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