Spine Services Division

The Neurosurgical Spine Services Division at the University of Pittsburgh—under the direction of D. Kojo Hamilton, MD—is a multidisciplinary organization composed of specialists in the fields of physical therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, interventional neuroradiology and neurological spine surgery. Specialists from these fields work together as a unified group to provide the highest quality care for patients and athletes who have spine injuries, painful disc conditions, neck, arm, back or leg pain. 

Adam S. Kanter, MD, is chief of neurosurgical spine services at UPMC Presbyterian and also leads the minimally invasive spine program. David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, leads the spine trauma and spinal deformity program and Dr. Hamilton provides specialty care in the treatment of cervical malalignment and spinal deformity. Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, leads the percutaneous and spine radiosurgery programs. Thomas J. Buell, MD, joined the division in January 2022.

The Neurosurgical Spine Services Division offers comprehensive care for all types of spinal disorders, including degenerative, traumatic, and oncologic conditions. The initial treatment approach is typically non-surgical, with surgical options reserved for patients with recurrent or disabling symptoms and/or progressive deficits. Complete diagnostic testing of all spinal and nerve disorders is available through the center.

The minimally invasive program, led by Dr. Kanter, utilizes state-of-the-art portal techniques and lateral access corridors to minimize trauma and disruption of stabilizing back muscles. The spinal deformity program, led by Dr. Okonkwo, offers full-scale analysis, longitudinal tracking and treatment interventions for patients with scoliosis and thoracolumbar spinal deformity. Together, they continue to push the surgical envelope and combine their unique skill sets to provide each and every patient with the least invasive yet maximally effective treatment options.

Dr. Hamilton correspondingly treats complex cervical deformity, such as swan neck and chin-on-chest disorders, in addition to thoracolumbar scoliosis, oncologic and degenerative spine conditions. The spine radiosurgery program, led by Dr. Gerszten, is one of the most experienced centers in the world in treating a wide variety of benign and malignant spine and paraspinal tumors that has proven highly effective, safe, and painless, and avoids many of the risks associated with open surgery.

Within the division is the Center for Surgical Pain Management led by John J. Moossy, MD. This program provides a variety of surgical options for the management of medically intractable pain syndromes. The range of treatment varies from neuroaugmentation (i.e., spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal opioids) to surgical decompression (with or without spinal fusion) to ablative neurosurgery.

The Neurosurgical Spine Services Division works together as a unified team, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to maximize patient care and outcomes. An array of research studies and protocols are employed to deliver unsurpassed treatment strategies, ensuring that patients receive the best state-of-the-art care in the country.