Adam S. Kanter, MD

  • Associate Professor
  • Chief, UPMC Presbyterian Spine Service
  • Director, Minimally Invasive Spine Program
  • Co-Director, Spine Fellowship Program

Adam S. Kanter, MD, joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery in January of 2008 as director of the department’s minimally invasive spine program.

Dr. Kanter performed his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, graduating with Cum Laude honors. He obtained his master’s degree from Boston University and his medical degree from the University of Vermont in 2001. Dr. Kanter then completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Virginia in 2007. He completed subspecialty fellowship training in minimally invasive spine surgery at the University of California in San Francisco and Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr. Kanter is board certified in neurological surgery and was promoted to associate professor in 2013. He was named chief of spine services in 2014 and continues to push the surgical envelope in minimally invasive spine procedures utilizing many of the innovative portals that he has helped to develop.

Dr. Kanter is principal investigator in several research studies evaluating the use of stem cell derived biologics to induce spinal fusion. His research focuses on patient derived clinical outcome measures, specifically appraising the utility of minimally invasive and lateral access surgical corridors.

Dr. Kanter has published numerous papers in refereed journals and authored several book chapters. He provides editorial service to several peer reviewed journals and is a key member of several major neurosurgical societies. He resided as chairman of the 2016 Spine Summit’s Scientific Program, recording the highest attendance in the history of the section’s conference. Dr. Kanter has also received numerous accolades for his clinical expertise, including top doctor, most compassionate doctor, and patient’s choice awards.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Minimally invasive spine surgery; lateral access spine surgery; artificial disc technology; spinal tumors; experimental therapies for spinal fusion.

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgery

Hospital Privileges

UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
UPMC Passavant
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC St. Margaret
UPMC Shadyside

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine & Peripheral Nerves
AANS/CNS Section of Neurotrauma & Critical Care
AANS/CNS Section on Tumors
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
North American Spine Society
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Society of Lateral Access Surgeons (SOLAS)
Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeons (SMISS)
World Spinal Column Society

Education & Training

  • BS, Psychology, University of Massachusetts, 1993
  • MS, Medical Sciences, Boston University, 1997
  • MD, University of Vermont, 2001
  • Residency, Neurosurgery, University of Virginia, 2007
  • Fellowship, Spine Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 2007

Honors & Awards

  • UPMC ‘ACES’ Award for Commitment & Excellence in Service, 2019
  • Pittsburgh's Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2012-19
  • Patients' Choice Award, UPMC, October 2012-19
  • Top 10 Doctor, Vitals Neurosurgical Specialists, 2012-19
  • Most Compassionate Doctor Award, UPMC, December 2012-19
  • Early Achievement Award, University of Vermont School of Medicine, 2016

Selected Publications

Agarwal N, Faramand A, Bellon J, Borrebach J, Hamilton DK, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Limitations of patient experience reports to evaluate physician quality in spine surgery: analysis of 7485 surveys. J Neurosurg Spine 11:1-4, 2019.

Eastlack RK, Srinivas R, Mundis GM, Nguyen S, Mummaneni PV, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS, Anand N, Park P, Nunley P, Uribe JS, Akbarnia BA, Chou D, Deviren V; International Spine Study Group. Early and Late Reoperation Rates With Various MIS Techniques for Adult Spinal Deformity Correction. Global Spine J 9(1):41-47, 2019.

McGowan JE, Kanter AS. Lateral Approaches for the Surgical Treatment of Lumbar Spondylolisthesis. Neurosurg Clin N Am 30(3):313-322, 2019. 

Chou D, Mundis G, Wang M, Fu KM, Shaffrey C, Okonkwo D, Kanter A, Eastlack R, Nguyen S, Deviren V, Uribe J, Fessler R, Nunley P, Anand N, Park P, Mummaneni P. Minimally Invasive Surgery for Mild-to-Moderate Adult Spinal Deformities: Impact on Intensive Care Unit and Hospital Stay. International Spine Study Group. World Neurosurg 1:S1878-8750, 2019. 

Wang MY, Tran S, Brusko GD, Eastlack R, Park P, Nunley PD, Kanter AS, Uribe JS, Anand N, Okonkwo DO, Than KD, Shaffrey CI, Lafage V, Mundis GM, Mummaneni PV; MIS-ISSG Group. Less invasive spinal deformity surgery: the impact of the learning curve at tertiary spine care centers. J Neurosurg Spine 23:1-8, 2019.

Agarwal N, Angriman F, Goldschmidt E, Zhou J, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO, Passias PG, Protopsaltis T, Lafage V, Lafage R, Schwab F, Bess S, Ames C, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Burton D, Hamilton DK; International Spine Study Group. Relationship between body mass index and sagittal vertical axis change as well as health-related quality of life in 564 patients after deformity surgery. J Neurosurg Spine 9:1-6, 2019.

Tempel ZJ, McDowell MM, Panczykowski DM, Gandhoke GS, Hamilton DK, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Graft subsidence as a predictor of revision surgery following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 28(1):50-56, 2018.

Agarwal N, Agarwal P, Querry A, Mazurkiewicz A, Tempel ZJ, Friedlander RM, Gerszten PC, Hamilton DK, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Implementation of an infection prevention bundle and increased physician awareness improves surgical outcomes and reduces costs associated with spine surgery. Journal of Neurosurg: Spine (1):108-114, 2018. 

Agarwal N, Gupta R, Agarwal P, Matthew P, Wolferz R Jr, Shah A, Adeeb N, Prabhu AV, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO, Hamilton DK. Descriptive Analysis of State and Federal Spine Surgery Malpractice Litigation in the United States. Spine (14):984-990, 2018. 

Agarwal N, Faramand A, Alan N, Tempel ZJ, Hamilton DK, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion in the elderly: a 10-year experience. J Neurosurg Spine 1;29(5):525-529, 2018. 

Park P, Fu KM, Mummaneni PV, Uribe JS, Wang MY, Tran S, Kanter AS, Nunley PD, Okonkwo DO, Shaffrey CI, Mundis GM Jr, Chou D, Eastlack R, Anand N, Than KD, Zavatsky JM, Fessler RG. International Spine Study Group. The Impact of Age On Surgical Goals For Spinopelvic Alignment In Minimally Invasive Surgery For Adult Spinal Deformity. J Neurosurg Spine 10:1-5, 2018. 

Uribe JS, Schwab F, Mundis GM Jr, Xu DS, Januszewski J, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO, Hu SS, Vedat D, Eastlack R, Berjano P, Mummaneni PV. The Comprehensive Anatomical Spinal Osteotomy and Anterior Column Realignment Classification. J Neurosurg Spine 24:1-11, 2018. 

Salvetti DJ, Tempel ZJ, Goldschmidt E, Colwell NA, Angriman F, Panczykowski DM, Agarwal N, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO. Low preoperative serum prealbumin levels and the postoperative surgical site infection risk in elective spine surgery: a consecutive series. J Neurosurg Spine 1;29(5):549-552, 2018. 

Kanter AS, Tempel ZJ, Agarwal N, Hamilton DK, Zavatsky JM, Mundis GM, Tran S, Chou D, Park P, Uribe JS, Wang MY, Anand N, Eastlack R, Mummaneni PV, Okonkwo DO. Curve Laterality for Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion in Adult Scoliosis Surgery: The Concave Versus Convex Controversy. Neurosurgery 1;83(6):1219-1225, 2018. 

A complete list of Dr. Kanter's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database. 

Research Activities

1) Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Surgical Trial (CSM-S Trial) Non-Randomized. The goal of this study is to enroll non-randomized subjects into the CSM-S Trial. Supported by the Lahey Clinic, Inc. via The Stuart Fund for Spine Treatment Center.

2) Spinal Laminectomy versus Instrumental Pedicle Screw (SLIP II). The goal of the study it to determine the comparative effectiveness of decompression alone versus decompression and fusion for patients with degenerative grade I spondylolisthesis and symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis. Supported by the Lahey Clinic, Inc. via Alan L. and Jacqueline B. Stuart Spine Research Center.

3) A Prospective Multicenter Study Evaluating the Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes of Thoracolumbar Spine Surgery When Comprehensive Sagittal Alignment Surgical Planning is Used. The objective of this study is to validate the utility and effectiveness of comprehensive surgical planning in restoring and preserving sagittal alignment through the collection of clinical and radiographic outcomes. Supported by NuVasive, Inc.

4) EVEREST®/VESUVIUS™ Study. To evaluate the perioperative and post-operative radiographic and patient outcome variables with the K2M VESVIUS™ Demineralized Fibers when used with the K2M EVEREST® Spinal System as compared to literature reported outcomes using autograft with posterior stabilization in the treatment of spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and/or degenerative disc disease. Sponsored by K2M.

5) Randomized, Controlled, Single-blind Study of Probable Benefit of the Neuro-Spinal Scaffold™ for Safety and Neurologic Recovery in Subjects with Complete Thoracic AIS A Spinal Cord Injury as Compared to Standard of Care. A study to enhance the clinical evidence. Sponsored by InVivo Therapeutics Corporation.

Media Appearances

Less invasive spinal surgery pioneered by UPMC neurosurgeon helps patients recover quicker
July 23, 2012
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pounded spinal cord can mimic more serious injury
October 4, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPMC OnTopic Videos

Clinical Advantages of Lateral Access Surgery
Dr. Kanter explains how lateral access surgery is a viable and beneficial option that preserves tissue integral to the rehabilitation and recovery of patients with degenerative spine conditions.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Scoliosis
Dr. Kanter explains how scoliosis can be treated minimally invasively.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Stenosis
Dr. Kanter explains how stenosis can be treated minimally invasively.

Minimally Invasive Spine Fusion Surgery
Dr. Kanter discusses the benefits of minimally invasive spine fusion surgery.