Diseases we treat
- Brain Tumor
- Spinal Tumor
- Skull Base Tumors
- Pituitary Tumor
Members of the Neurosurgery Department provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art care for patients with benign or malignant tumors affecting the central nervous system. Our team of world-renowned neurosurgeons dedicate their practice exclusively to the care of patients with brain, spine, skull base and peripheral nerve tumors.
MD Anderson's Neurosurgery Department is considered one of the best programs in the country. We treat patients from all over the world and are dedicated to research-driven innovations that revolutionize patient care. Our neurosurgeons are developing and applying minimally invasive approaches to treating brain, spine, skull base and peripheral nerve tumors. Compared with conventional surgery, these procedures produce optimal oncological outcomes and generally result in shorter hospital stays, less pain, faster recoveries and less disruption to radiation or chemotherapy. Whether a patient's tumor is malignant or benign, our experts are equipped to provide the best care possible. Within all of our specialties, neurosurgery patients work with a multidisciplinary team that provides personalized care and treatment plans.
Neurosurgery by the Numbers in FY21
Number of surgeries
Brain Intraoperative MRI Cases
Achieved Gross Total Resection
Our neurosurgeons perform more surgeries on brain tumor patients than any hospital in the nation and provide a wide range of drug therapies that target abnormalities in tumor cells. Each procedure is planned with the patient's lifestyle and talents in mind. These procedures produce optimal oncological outcomes and generally result in shorter hospital stays, less pain and faster recoveries compared to conventional surgery.
Brain tumor cases by fiscal year:
- 2017: 1,295
- 2018: 1,267
- 2019: 1,440
- 2020: 1,116
- 2021: 1,145
Featured cranial publication- Traylor JI, Patel R, Muir M, de Almeida Bastos DC, Ravikumar V, Kamiya-Matsuoka C, Rao G, Thomas JG, Kew Y, Prabhu SS. Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy for Glioblastoma: A Single-Center Experience. World Neurosurg. 2021 May;149:e244-e252. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2021.02.044. Epub 2021 Feb 19. PMID: 33610872.
Publication summary: Glioblastoma, the most common primary brain tumor, is associated with a dismal median survival of 12-15 months with current standard of care. Surgery is generally considered the preferred approach for these tumors, but not all tumors are surgically accessible, and local and distant intracranial recurrence is common. Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) is an emerging minimally invasive approach, requiring only a 2 mm incision in the scalp and only a few minutes to perform, which involves implanting a catheter that can heat the tumor to high enough temperatures to kill it. Our team, led by Sujit Prabhu, M.D., retrospectively reviewed and analyzed data from 69 patients with GBM who received LITT at MD Anderson Cancer Center (2013-20017) in one of the largest single-institution cohort studies to assess the safety and efficacy of this technique for GBM specifically. Results of this study indicated that LITT may confer a survival benefit over nonoperative management in patients for whom surgical resection is not an option. Importantly, the observed increase in progression-free survival among patients who received chemotherapy after LITT suggests that LITT may facilitate improved delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor site. Larger prospective studies to confirm these promising results are warranted.
Unparalleled skill, collaboration and innovation drive our spinal tumor experts to achieve improved results and treatment options for our patients. We personalize each patient’s treatment to provide the best long-term outcome. This ranges from precise delivery of high doses of focused conformal radiation, laser ablations guided by intraoperative MRI, microsurgical and minimally invasive approaches for tumor resection, percutaneous and image-guided spinal stabilizations, to removing the entire tumor in one piece.
Spine tumor cases by fiscal year:
- 2017: 278
- 2018: 253
- 2019: 264
- 2020: 234
- 2021: 263
Featured spine publication- Zuckerman SL, Lee SH, Chang GJ, Walsh GL, Mehran RJ, Gokaslan ZL, Rao G, Tatsui CE, Rhines LD. Outcomes of Surgery for Sacral Chordoma and Impact of Complications: A Report of 50 Consecutive Patients With Long-Term Follow-Up. Global Spine J. 2021 Jun;11(5):740-750. doi: 10.1177/21925682211011444. PMID: 34047643; PMCID: PMC8165918.
Publication summary: Sacral chordomas are primary bone tumors found along the axial skeleton, most commonly arising in the sacrococcygeal region. While en bloc resection is the preferred treatment for sacral chordomas due to the limited response of these tumors to radiation and chemotherapy, the large size of many sacral chordomas at diagnosis and complex anatomy of the sacropelvic region often make this approach difficult and increase the risk of surgical complications. As such, it is important to identify whether perioperative factors, such as surgical complications, predict postsurgical outcomes in these patients. A series of 50 patients who underwent en bloc resection of a sacral chordoma at MD Anderson Cancer Center from January 1995 to June 2016, was reviewed. After a median of 5.3 years of follow-up, our team, led by Laurence Rhines, M.D., found that while negative margin resection was associated with a decreased risk of local recurrence, major complications and reoperation did not significantly impact overall survival, local recurrence, or functional outcome. Therefore, it appears that the inherently high surgical morbidity associated with these invasive operations does not adversely alter the trajectory of survival and recurrence.
Our skull base team is known for their expertise in open surgical approaches, and in recent years, have been at the forefront of merging endoscopic skull base surgery techniques. For every patient, the team considers whether an open, endoscopic, or combination approach will be most effective, based on the specific tumor type and location. Providing expertly performed surgery, often as part of a carefully constructed, personalized multimodal care plan, is critical in optimizing our patients' outcomes.
Skull Base tumor cases by fiscal year:
- 2017: 193
- 2018: 189
- 2019: 209
- 2020: 176
- 2021: 195
Featured skull base publication- Breshears JD, DeMonte F, Habib A, Gidley PW, Raza SM. Management of Recurrent or Progressing Skull Base Chondrosarcomas: Predictors of Long-Term Outcomes. J Neurol Surg B Skull Base. 2021 Jul;82(Suppl 3):e155-e165. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1701523. Epub 2020 Feb 7. PMID: 34306931; PMCID: PMC8289497.
Publication summary: While rare and often characterized by slow growth, chondrosarcomas (CSA) are associated with local invasion and destructive growth within the skull base. Moreover, these tumors are difficult to cure and there is little data regarding salvage therapy. Shaan Raza, M.D., and his team conducted a retrospective review of the clinical course and outcomes of 17 patients with recurrent/progressive CSA treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center over a 25-year period. They conducted a survival analysis to identify presentation and treatment-related factors that impact progression and disease-specific survival following 47 recurrence/progression events. In this cohort, high grade histology and prior radiation treatment negatively impacted salvage treatment outcomes. Additionally, though a rare scenario, gross total resection for recurrence following primary treatment was significantly associated with successful outcomes. These findings suggest that careful consideration of histology, systemic disease status, previous treatments, and the anatomic extent of the skull base disease can inform the selection of salvage intervention following recurrence to optimize patient outcomes.
Advanced Technology Operating Rooms
A specialized operating room with intraoperative computerized tomography (IOCT) opened in The Pavilion in spring 2016. Our spine surgeons helped design the IOCT suite, complete with a custom surgical table and mobile CT scanner that can move on rails to scan the patient in the operating position during surgery. The technology in this room allows our spine surgeons to operate with even better accuracy.
This state-of-the-art technology not only improves patient care, but also meets the evolving needs of MD Anderson’s surgical, interventional radiology and cardiology needs. The biplane uses rotating cameras to provide high-definition imaging to produce produce real-time, three-dimensional images of blood vessels and soft tissue. After the body is injected with contrast fluid, the biplane can provide specific localization of a disease or lesion. The biplane is incredibly precise, which makes
surgery even safer and allows patients to experience faster recovery times. Having the unit in the OR allows for hybrid open surgical and angiographic procedures.
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 is only one of two such systems in the state of Texas. The Brainsuite® can help reduce the need for patients to undergo additional surgeries.
The Neurosurgery department at MD Anderson run dozens of clinical trials for brain, spine and skull base tumors, including newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma.
We also have clinical trials for brain metastases and leptomeningeal disease.
2022-2023 Neurosurgical Oncology Fellows
Bledi Brahmiaj, M.D. - Skull Base Fellow
Phillip Cezayirili, M.D.
Michael Catalino, M.D.
Candace Poon, M.D., Ph.D.
Elena Fomchenko, M.D. - Research Fellow
Neurosurgical Residency Program
MD Anderson is one of five hospitals that receive residents from the Baylor College of Medicine Neurosurgery Residency Program.
It has a history as one of the largest and most respected neurosurgery training programs in the U.S.
The residency program was founded and nationally accredited in 1958, and has been continuously funded and accredited ever since.
Learn more about the Baylor College of Medicine Neurosurgery Residency Program.
Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship
The Neurosurgery department offers four fellowship positions in neurosurgical oncology beginning July 1 of each year. The overall goal is to train young neurosurgeons to become academic neurosurgical oncologists who are highly skilled and knowledgeable surgeons.
Neurosurgery clinical faculty members are widely recognized for their expertise in primary and metastatic brain tumor surgery, pituitary adenoma surgery, skull base surgery, spinal reconstructive surgery, surgical procedures for pain management, pediatric neurosurgery and stereotactic surgery. The department performs over 1,900 brain, spine and skull base surgeries each year.
Learn more about the Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship.
2021-2022 Neurosurgical Oncology Fellows
Chibawanye Ene, M.D., Ph.D.
Elena Fomchenko, M.D. - Research Fellow
Candace Poon, M.D., Ph.D.
Solon Schur, M.D. - Skull Base Fellow
Academic Office: 713-792-2400
Brain and Spine Clinic: 713-792-6600
The Department of Neurosurgery is located on the 7th floor of the John Mendelsohn Faculty Center. Get customized directions using our Access system.
1400 Holcombe Boulevard
Room FC7.2000, Unit 442
Houston, TX 77030-4009
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Neurosurgery
P.O. Box 301402-442
Houston, TX 77230-1402