Neurosurgery Department

Featured News

Glioblastoma added to Moon Shots Program

MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented effort and novel organizational model designed to more rapidly convert scientific discoveries into life-saving advances, has added six new targets, including glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. The Glioblastoma Moon Shot is led by Amy Heimberger, M.D., professor of Neurosurgery, along with John de Groot, M.D., chair ad interim of Neuro-Oncology, and Frederick Lang, M.D., professor of Neurosurgery.

The flagship projects of the moon shot focus on precision immunotherapy, biological therapeutics, and drug development and selection. One of the biological therapeutics, a cancer-killing virus called Delta-24, was featured in the fall 2015 edition of Conquest magazine. Learn more about the Glioblastoma Moon Shot or read the press release.

Neurosurgery Department

Members of the Department of Neurosurgery provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art care for patients with benign or malignant tumors affecting the central nervous system. The department employs a team of world-renowned physicians that have more than 220 combined years of experience handling patients with complex brain and spine tumors. In addition, the physicians exclusively dedicate their practice to the care of patients with brain or spine cancer.

Physicians in the Department of Neurosurgery perform more surgeries on patients with brain tumors than any hospital in the nation — more than 950 surgeries each year — and provide a wide range of drug therapies that target abnormalities in tumor cells. The surgeons also conduct approximately 200 spine surgeries each year on patients with complex spinal tumors, and take a multidisciplinary approach to care. Additionally, we perform more than 600 stereotactic radiosurgery cases on brain tumors and more than 75 on spine tumors each year. Physicians in the department also affiliate with both the Head and Neck Center and the Brain and Spine Center, one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. Rest assured patients that choose MD Anderson Cancer Center will receive excellent, individualized and comprehensive care.

Advanced Technology


In the Department of Neurosurgery physicians operate with the most advanced technology systems, including the Brainsuite®. It is one of only two such systems in the state of Texas. The Brainsuite® is a neurological operating room with a large bore Siemens Espree (1.5-tesla magnet) MRI and an image-guided management system to give surgeons an improved perspective on the progress of complex neurological surgeries. It can also help reduce the need for patients to undergo additional surgeries.

Other treatment technologies include Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery Program and the Proton Therapy Center.

Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery

Our neurosurgeons are developing and applying minimally invasive approaches to treating brain, spine and skull base tumors. These procedures produce optimal oncological outcomes and generally result in shorter hospital stays, less pain, quicker recoveries and less disruption to radiation or chemotherapy, compared to conventional surgery. They can provide an alternative for patients who are not good candidates for conventional surgery or have an inoperable tumor.

Our minimally invasive treatments include:

  • Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery: With few or no incisions, the surgeon uses an endoscope to remove the tumors in the skull base and brain working via the nasal cavity and without making a large facial incision. The endoscopic approach can provide a better view of and access to hard-to-reach tumors at the base of the skull – and therefore, more effective removal of the tumor and with less morbidity than alternative approaches. Tumors treated with this approach include: meningiomas, chondrosarcomas, chordomas, carcinomas, sarcomas, and many others.
  • Laser Ablation: Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a treatment performed by inserting a probe into the tumor and heating it to temperatures high enough to kill the tumor. The probe is placed using advanced computer imaging techniques. The surgeon monitors the heat levels through real-time MRI thermography (in our Brainsuite®) and precisely controls the thermal damage to just the tumor.
    • Brain Tumors: Laser ablation provides an option for some patients with hard-to-reach, deep-seated or irregularly shaped brain tumors, including gliomas and metastases. It can also help patients who do not respond to radiation, cannot receive any more radiation, or have developed radiation necrosis.
    • Spine Tumors: Claudio Tatsui, M.D., has pioneered the use of laser ablation for spine tumors. MD Anderson is the first in the world to use this technique for metastatic spine tumors. Some spine tumors are not amenable to conventional surgical techniques and laser ablation offers another option. Most patients have a one or two-day hospital stay and little to no disruption to other treatments.
  • Minimally Invasive Spinal Stabilization: Minimally invasive spinal stabilization is done through one or more half-inch incisions, instead of one large incision as is used for traditional spinal stabilization. This technique is associated with less intraoperative blood loss, lower incidence of infection, the hospital stay is shorter and the functional recovery is faster.

Diseases We Treat

Q&A: Focus on brain surgery 

More on basics, diagnosis and treatments:     

Treatment at MD Anderson

Brain tumors, spinal tumors and skull base tumors are treated in our:

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