Peter C. Gerszten, MD

  • Peter E. Sheptak Professor
  • Vice Chair, Quality Improvement
  • Director, Percutaneous Spine Service

Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, is the Peter E. Sheptak Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Gerszten joined the Department of Neurological Surgery and the UPMC Spine Services Division in 1999. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and completed his medical degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed his residency in neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Gerszten obtained a master of public health degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. He completed a fellowship in spinal surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Gerszten specializes in disorders of the spine, focusing on spinal neoplasms. His clinical interests include minimally invasive approaches to the treatment of spinal disorders and spinal tumors. Dr. Gerszten’s area of research is the application of outcomes research to spinal surgical interventions. He is a pioneer in the field of spine radiosurgery. 

Dr. Gerszten is co-editor of the 2015 second edition Spine Radiosurgery, an authoritative textbook—and the first of its kind—on all aspects of spine radiosurgery. He is also co-editor of the book Controversies in Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Best Evidence Recommendations, a 277-page look into an evidence-based approach to stereotactic radiosurgery for the brain and spine.

Dr. Gerszten currently serves on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery, The Spine Journal, and The Journal of Radiosurgery and SBR.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Outcomes research applied to neurosurgical interventions; failed back syndrome; stereotactic radiosurgery of spinal lesions; minimally invasive spine surgical techniques; sacroiliac dysfunction; compression fractures and percutaneous cement techniques.

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgery

Hospital Privileges

UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside
Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
American Academy of Neurological Surgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Delta Omega Public Health National Honor Society
International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society
Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves
North American Spine Society
Paleopathology Society
Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society
Pennsylvania State Medical Society
The Radiosurgery Society

Education & Training

  • BA, University of Virginia, 1988
  • MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1992
  • MPH, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, 1998
  • Residency, Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 1999
  • Fellowship, Spine Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 2000

Honors & Awards

  • Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2018-21

Selected Publications

Laufer I, Lo SS, Chang EL, Sheehan J, Guckgenberg M, Sohn MJ, Ryu S, Foote M, Mueacevic A, Soltys SG, Chao S, Myrehaug S, Gerszten PC, Lis E, Maralani P, Bilsky M, Fisher C, Rhines L, Verlaan, JJ, Schiff D, Fehlings MG, Ma L, Chang S, Parelukar WR, Vogelbaum MA, Sahgal A. Population description and clinical response assessment for spinal metastases: Part 2 of the SPIne Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology (SPINO) Group Report.  Neuro Oncol 20(9):1215-1224.

Kalash R, Glaser SM, Flickinger JC, Burton S, Heron DE, Gerszten PC, Engh JA, Amankulor NM, Vargo JA. Stereotactic body radiation therapy for benign spine tumors: Is dose de-escalation appropriate? J Neurosurgery: Spine. 29(2):220-225, 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 surgeryJ Neurosurg Spine 29(1):108-114, 2018.

Ling DC, Flickinger JC, Burton SA, Heron DE, Quinn AE, Bejjani GK, Engh JA, Gerszten PC, Amankulor NM, Vargo JA. Long-term outcomes after stereotactic radiosurgery for spine metastases: Radiation dose-response for late toxicityInt J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 101(3):602-609 2018. 

Kim KD, Ramanathan D, Highsmith J, Lavelle W, Gerszten PC, Vale F, Wright N. DuraSeal Exact is a safe adjunctive treatment for durotomy in spine: Postapproval studyGlobal Spine J 9(3):272-278, 2019.

Hisch JA, Beall DP, Chambers MR, Andreshak TG, Brook AL, Bruel BM, Deen HG, Gerszten PC, Kreiner DS, Sansur CA, Tutton SM, van der Meer P, Stoevelaar HJ. Management of vertebral fragility fractures: A clinical care pathway developed by a multispecialty panel using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness MethodSpine J 18(11):2152-2161, 2018.

Goldschmidt E, Fellows-Mayle W, Paschel EE, Niranjan A, Flickinger JC, Lunsford LD, Gerszten PC. Evaluation of Clinical and Histologic Effects of High-Dose Radiosurgery on Rat Dorsal Root Ganglion. World Neurosurg S1878-8750(18)32905-X, 2018.

Goldschmidt E, Angriman F, Agarwal N, Trevisan M, Zhou J, Chen K, Gerszten PC, Kanter AS, Okonkwo DO, Passias P, Scheer J, Protopsaltis T, Lafage V, Lafage R, Schwab F, Bess S, Ames C, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Miller E, Jain A, Neuman B, Sciubba DM, Burton D, Hamilton DK; International Spine Study Group (ISSG). A new piece of the puzzle to understand cervical sagittal alignment: Utilizing a novel angle δ to describe the relationship among T1 vertebral body slope, cervical lordosis, and cervical sagittal alignmentNeurosurgery 86(3):446-451, 2020.

Nikoobakht M, Shojaei H, Gerszten PC, Shojaei SF, Mollahoseini R, Asar M. Craniometrical imaging and clinical findings of adult Chiari malformation type 1 before and after posterior fossa decompression surgery and duraplastyBritish Journal of Neurosurgery 33(5):481-485, 2019.

Goldschmidt E, Fellows-Mayle W, Wolfe R, Niranjan A, Flickinger JC. Lunsford LD, Gerszten PC. Radiosurgery to the spinal dorsal root ganglion induces fibrosis and inhibits satellite glial cell activation while preserving axonal neurotransmissionJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine 32:790-798, 2020.

Singh R, Lehrer ED, Dahshan B, Palmer JD, Sahgal A, Gerszten PC, Zaorsky NG, Trifiletti DM. Single fraction radiosurgery, fractionated radiosurgery, and conventional radiotherapy for spinal oligometastasis (SAFFRON): A systematic review and meta-analysisRadiother Oncol 146:76-89, 2020.

Nikoobakht M, Gerszten PC, Shojaei SF, Shojaei H, Percutaneous balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of vertebral compression fractures:  A single-center analysis of pain and quality of life outcomesBr J Neurosurgery 9:1-4, 2020. 

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

Research Activities

This year, Dr. Gerszten has begun to explore the role of spinal cord electrical stimulation for an expanding variety of indications. Dr. Gerszten has a long interest in spinal neuromodulation. His previous work documented the potential use of radiosurgery for spinal neuromodulation. Based upon successful animal research, Dr. Gerszten collaborated with members of the University of Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Neural Engineering Laboratories and the Neurosciences Institute of Carnegie Mellon University to perform the first ever implantation of a cervical spinal cord stimulator in a patient with a stroke in order to overcome arm paralysis. Epidural electrical stimulation is currently used to treat pain caused by damage or injury to the cervical spinal nerves. The implantation of electrodes over the cervical dorsal root ganglia should allow for the selective engagement of hand and arm muscles by providing the surviving neural circuits with appropriate electrical signals. By adjusting the location of the cervical leads as well as modifying the electrical stimulation of the spinal cord stimulator, patients should have the ability to regain use of paralyzed limbs.   

Dr. Gerszten’s clinical research focuses on the adoption of minimally invasive surgical treatments for disorders of the spine. Such minimally invasive techniques allow for decreased morbidity while improving outcomes in neurosurgical patients. Such techniques include the use of expanded radio frequency ablative techniques for patients with spinal tumors. Dr. Gerszten continues to expand and systematically analyze the clinical outcomes and safety profiles associated with the use of new spinal implant devices. He has a particular interest in documenting the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive sacroiliac joint fusions using titanium screw implants for sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Media Appearances

Experto dice que la Radiocirugía evita la cirugía en el tratamiento de metástasis que afectan a la columna vertebral
November 6, 2013

SBRT in tumours of the spinal column
July 30, 2013

La Radiocirugía. una alternativa eficaz para evitar la cirugía en el tratamiento de metástasis de la columna vertebral
June 11, 2013

Evaluar al paciente, clave en el manejo de columna vertebal
February 1, 2012
Diaro Medico

Stereotactic Radiosurgery Matures Into Mainstream Extracranial Technique (pdf)
August 2010 
Elekta Wavelength