Peter Jannetta Passes Away

Peter JannettaPittsburgh, April 12, 2016 -- Peter Jannetta, MD, former long-time department chairman and world-renowned developer of a groundbreaking procedure to relieve facial spasms, died April 11 from injuries suffered in a recent fall. He was 84.

Dr. Jannetta was widely acclaimed for his development of microvascular decompression, a novel procedure that moved blood vessels away from the trigeminal nerve, alleviating chronic pain and spasms in facial muscles. The procedure became commonly known as the ‘Jannetta Procedure’ in the neurosurgical community.

PJ, as he was widely known by friends and colleagues, was admired and respected throughout the medical field. He received numerous awards throughout his career including the Distinguished Medal of Honor from the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies. His patients knew him for his friendly bedside manner and his ability to communicate with his ‘old-school charm.’

Dr. Jannetta became chairman of the newly formed Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and served in that role for more than 25 years. Perhaps equally important as his scientific accomplishments, was his legacy of training future leaders in neurosurgery. During his tenure at the University of Pittsburgh, he trained 49 residents—including four future department chairmen—and was honored with an endowed professorship, appropriately named after Walter E. Dandy—considered one of the founding fathers of neurosurgery.

After leaving the university, Dr. Jannetta helped develop the Cranial Nerve Center at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. After retirement, Dr. Jannetta continued to mentor young neurosurgeons. Only days before his death, he visited the University of Pittsburgh were he served as co-lecturer for a talk before neurosurgery and neurology residents on the life and times of Walter E. Dandy. (See Remembering Walter E. Dandy.)

Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be sent to Jannetta Neuroscience Foundation Inc., 5023 Frew St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

[Read A giant of medicine: The legacy of neurosurgeon Peter Jannetta, an editorial board comment about the passing of Dr. Jannetta from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.]

[Also, read detailed obituaries on Dr. Jannetta in the New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and an April 20 letter from a grateful patient in the Trib.]