Robert F. Spetzler, MD, FACS

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Robert F. Spetzler, MD, FACS


Robert F. Spetzler, MD, FACS
Director, Barrow Neurological Institute
J. N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery
Chair, Division of Neurological Surgery
Director, Neurological Research

Dr. Robert Spetzler is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who specializes in cerebrovascular disease and skull base tumors. He has been involved in pioneering the technique of hypothermia and cardiac arrest for the treatment of difficult brain lesions. He has been honored many times by professional societies, including the American College of Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. In 1994 Dr. Spetzler was chosen to be the Honored Guest of Congress of Neurological Surgeons. At age 49 he was the youngest recipient of this prestigious honor.

Dr. Spetzler was born in Stierhoefstetten, Germany, and moved to the United States at the age of 11. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and his MD from Northwestern Medical School, Chicago, Illinois. His postgraduate training was completed at Wesley Memorial Hospital–Northwestern in Chicago, Illinois. He completed a residency in neurosurgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He received board certification in September 1979 from the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

In 1983 Dr. Spetzler left his position as Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, to assume the Chair in the Division of Neurological Surgery at Barrow. He has been the Director of Barrow since 1986. He is also a Professor of Surgery, Section of Neurosurgery, at University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, Arizona.


Dr. Spetzler has published more than 300 articles and 180 book chapters in the neuroscience literature. He has co-edited a number of neurosurgical textbooks, including the Color Atlas of Microneurosurgery. He is on the review board of several neuroscience journals and is Editor-in-Chief of the Barrow Quarterly and Skull Base: An Interdisciplinary Approach.

Education, Training, and Previous Positions

  • 1987-1991: Professor and Chief, Section of Neurosurgery, University of Arizona School of Medicine
  • 1985-1987: Clinical Professor of Surgery, University of Arizona School of Medicine
  • 1981-1983: Associate Professor, School of Medicine Dept. of Neurosurgery, Case Western Reserve University
  • 1977-1981: Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Case Western Reserve University
  • 1976-1977: Instructor, Dept. of Neurosurgery, University of California-San Francisco (UCSF)
  • 1972-1977: Residency, UCSF, Neurological Surgery
  • 1971-1972: Internship, Northwestern University, Wesley Memorial Hospital
  • 1971: MD, Northwestern University School of Medicine
  • 1967: BS, Knox College
  • 1963-1964: Illinois Valley Community College


Selected Professional Memberships and Appointments

  • American Academy of Neurological Surgery
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
  • AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section
  • American College of Surgeons
  • Arizona Medical Association
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS)
  • German Society of Neurological Surgery
  • North American Skull Base Society (NASBS)
  • Society of Neurological Surgeons
  • World Academy of Neurological Surgery (WANS)
  • World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS)


Selected Honors and Awards

  • 2010: Recipient, Founder’s Laurel, CNS
  • 2009: William B. Scoville Award, WFNS
  • 2009: HealthCare Leadership Award, AzBusiness Magazine
  • 2004: Honored Guest, 4th International Skull Base Congress
  • 2000: Honored Guest, American Academy of Achievement Class of 2000, AzGolden Plate Award
  • 1997: Outstanding Alumni, American Association of Community Colleges
  • 1994: Honored Guest, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • 1994: Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, Knox College
  • 1983: First Prize, American College of Surgeons, Resident Essay Contest
  • 1982: First Prize, American College of Surgeons, Resident Essay Contest
  • 1981: First Prize, American College of Surgeons, Resident Essay Contest
  • 1981: First Prize Research, Seventh Intl. CNS, Therapeutic Barbiturate Induced Coma for Focal Cerebral Ischemia: Relation of Response to Timing of Therapy and Duration of Occlusion
  • 1977: Annual Resident Award, 27th Annual Meeting, Congress of Neurological Surgery
  • 1967: Honors in Biology, Knox College, cum laude
  • 1965-1966: Scholarship to Free University of Berlin


Selected Publications

  1. Safavi-Abbasi S, Bambakidis NC, Zabramski JM, Workman R, Verma K, Senoglu M, Porter RW, Spetzler RF. Nonvestibular schwannomas: an evaluation of functional outcome after radiosurgical and microsurgical management. Acta Neurochir (Wien). Jan 2010;152(1):35-46.

  2. Killory BD, Chang SW, Wait SD, Spetzler RF. Use of flexible hollow-core CO2 laser in microsurgical resection of CNS lesions: early surgical experience. Neurosurgery. Jun 2010;66(6):1187-1192.

  3. Little AS, Jittapiromsak P, Crawford NR, Deshmukh P, Preul MC, Spetzler RF, Bambakidis NC. Quantitative analysis of exposure of staged orbitozygomatic and retrosigmoid craniotomies for lesions of the clivus with supratentorial extension. Neurosurgery. May 2008;62(5 Suppl 2):ONS318-323; discussion ONS323-314.

  4. Bambakidis NC, Kakarla UK, Kim LJ, Nakaji P, Porter RW, Daspit CP, Spetzler RF. Evolution of surgical approaches in the treatment of petroclival meningiomas: a retrospective review. Neurosurgery. Jun 2008;62(6 Suppl 3):1182-1191.

  5. Bambakidis NC, Kakarla UK, Kim LJ, Nakaji P, Porter RW, Daspit CP, Spetzler RF. Evolution of surgical approaches in the treatment of petroclival meningiomas: a retrospective review. Neurosurgery. Nov 2007;61(5 Suppl 2):202-209; discussion 209-211.

  6. Deshmukh VR, Figueiredo EG, Deshmukh P, Crawford NR, Preul MC, Spetzler RF. Quantification and comparison of telovelar and transvermian approaches to the fourth ventricle. Neurosurgery. Apr 2006;58(4 Suppl 2):ONS-202-206; discussion ONS-206-207.

  7. Deshmukh VR, Smith KA, Rekate HL, Coons S, Spetzler RF. Diagnosis and management of pineocytomas. Neurosurgery. Aug 2004;55(2):349-355; discussion 355-347.

  8. Gonzalez LF, Crawford NR, Horgan MA, Deshmukh P, Zabramski JM, Spetzler RF. Working area and angle of attack in three cranial base approaches: pterional, orbitozygomatic, and maxillary extension of the orbitozygomatic approach. Neurosurgery. Mar 2002;50(3):550-555; discussion 555-557.

  9. Vishteh AG, David CA, Marciano FF, Coscarella E, Spetzler RF. Extreme lateral supracerebellar infratentorial approach to the posterolateral mesencephalon: technique and clinical experience. Neurosurgery. Feb 2000;46(2):384-388; discussion 388-389.

  10. Detwiler PW, Henn JS, Porter RW, Lawton MT, White WL, Spetzler RF. Medulloblastoma presenting with tentorial "dural-tail" sign: is the "dural-tail" sign specific for meningioma? Skull Base Surg. 1998;8(4):233-236.

View complete list of publications on PubMed

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