WVU’s neurosurgeons provide advanced care to adults and children with disorders of the:

  • spine and spinal cord
  • Brain, carotid, and vertebral arteries
  • pituitary gland
  • cranial and spinal nerves
  • autonomic nervous system

Expert treatment is given for spinal degenerative disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, neoplasms, and trauma.

Our faculty includes skilled surgeons at the forefront of new techniques in skull-base surgery, advanced stroke care, epilepsy surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, pain, and functional disorders.

State-of-the-art technology

WVU’s Center for Advanced Imaging offers state-of-the-art equipment that enables surgeons to diagnose and treat problems with a high degree of accuracy. This includes PET and a 3-Tesla MRI, which are twice as powerful as former MRIs. Three-dimensional angiography allows for better visualizations of complex aneurysms. Other technologies include a surgical aspirator and an 80-watt laser.

The Gamma Knife uses focused radiation to destroy lesions with pinpoint accuracy, while avoiding damage to surrounding tissue.

Advanced techniques

Our surgeons are skilled in the latest microsurgical techniques to treat aneurysms and AVMs, as well as pituitary, acoustic, and skull-base tumors in difficult-to-reach areas. Working with interventional neuro-radiologists, some lesions can be treated via blood vessels using catheters.

Patients can benefit from new advanced treatments, including those in clinical trials.

Treatments we perform include:

  • Surgery for spine trauma
  • Microsurgery of the brain and spine including the use of computer and endoscopic guidance
  • Treatment for benign and malignant brain tumors
  • Surgery for acoustic neuromas
  • Surgery for pituitary disorders
  • Surgery for spinal cord tumors
  • Surgery for hydrocephalus
  • Surgery for epilepsy
  • Dorsal root entry zone lesions
  • Cranial-facial reconstruction
  • Deep brain spinal cord, vagal nerve, and peripheral nerve stimulation
  • Surgery for trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia – WVU Medicine Health Report

The Cranial Base Surgery Center at West Virginia University specializes in treating complex medical conditions involving lesions at the base of the skull. These include tumors, congenital anomalies, and infectious or inflammatory conditions. Because of the many important structures located in this area, cranial base lesions have long been some of the most difficult challenges for neurosurgeons and their patients.

Our surgeons are skilled in the most advanced techniques and the latest technologies, and we can offer help for conditions that previously may have been considered untreatable. We take a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment, bringing together the insights of neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, interventional neuroradiologists, radiation oncologists, and other skilled professionals to provide the most advanced and comprehensive care.

Conditions Treated

We treat patients with the following types of lesions in the cranial base region:

  • Aneurysms
  • Stroke requiring vascular bypass
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Acoustic tumors
  • Meningiomas of the cranial base, including:
    • Olfactory groove
    • Cavernous sinus
    • Petrous apex
    • Foramen magnum
  • Tumors of the clivus including chordoma
  • Tumors of the orbit
  • Tumors of the nasal sinuses extending toward the brain

Excellent outcomes

WVU surgeons are skilled in the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques and use of endoscopic approaches that provide for safer tumor removal and enhanced patient comfort. The goal is to maximize safe and effective treatment of lesions, while at the same time achieving excellent cosmetic outcomes.

State-of-the-Art Surgical Technology

State-of-the-art technology makes cranial base surgery possible. Our team approach is vital to providing the very best care and achieving the best possible outcomes for our patients.

State-of-the-art diagnostics

Advances in diagnostic technology have greatly increased physicians’ ability to pinpoint problems in the cranial base and to develop a precise treatment plan. We use the latest imaging technologies, including PET, 3.0 Tesla MRI, high resolution CT angiography, SPECT, and others that provide highly accurate images of the brain. While in the operating room, computerized image guidance allows our surgeons to visualize the operative area precisely.

Sophisticated neuro-monitoring enables surgeons to carefully follow the brain’s functioning even while a patient is asleep.

These include:

  • electroencephalography
  • somatosensory-evoked potentials
  • brainstem auditory evoked responses
  • intraoperative microsurgical Doppler
  • high-resolution cerebral angiography

Highly advanced treatment

New minimally invasive instruments, some developed by our own faculty, facilitate treatment of lesions in the most difficult-to-reach areas of the brain. The Center offers multi-faceted approaches to treating cranial base disorders, ranging from medical and surgical management to neurointerventional techniques, reconstructive surgery, and advanced radiation therapy including the use of the Gamma Knife.

The Neuro-oncology program at WVU Medicine offers innovative, specialized treatments to patients with primary and secondary tumors of the brain and spine.

Brain tumors can be benign, which means there are no cancer cells, or malignant, with cancer cells that grow quickly.

Common Symptoms

Brain and spinal tumors can cause many symptoms. Some of the most common are:

  • headaches, usually worse in the morning
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in your ability to talk, hear, or see
  • problems with balance or walking
  • problems with thinking or memory
  • muscle jerking or twitching
  • numbness or tingling in arms or legs

Neuro-oncology Surgery

Surgical treatments for patients with brain tumors include the use of computer-guided navigation systems in the operating room. Procedures such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery (a highly precise form of radiation therapy) enable tumor removal through smaller openings while minimizing the irritation of surrounding brain tissue.

These techniques have greatly reduced the risk of surgery, improved patient comfort, and shortened hospital stays to frequently less than three days.

Surgical treatments occasionally involve the cooperation of other surgical disciplines, such as otolaryngology, oculoplastics, and plastic surgery when the tumors involve the ears, sinuses, or eyes.

What to Expect as a New Patient

When you come to WVU Hospitals for diagnosis and treatment, you will be evaluated by our team of experts from the departments of:

  • neurosurgery
  • neuropsychology
  • neurology
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • radiation-oncology
  • radiation physics
  • nursing
  • neuropathology
  • neuroradiology

We want to make your visits to WVU as convenient as possible. When you visit our clinic, you may meet with various team members on the same day so you won’t have to make multiple trips.

You will also need to bring your complete radiology files and any pathology slides from previous biopsies.

Rehabilitation will be a part of your treatment program when you come to us for care. We also provide educational materials and counseling sessions to you and your family. We want you to understand your condition and know the relative risks and potential benefits of the various treatment options available to you.

Sanjay Bhatia, MBBS, MD, FAANS

Associate Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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Nicholas Brandmeir , MD

Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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John Caruso , MD

Berkeley Medical Center, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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Christopher Cifarelli, MD, PhD, FAANS, FACS

Director, Gamma Knife Program; Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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David Cohen, MD

Assistant Professor, Wheeling Division, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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Ronald Hargraves, MD, FACS

Associate Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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Robert Marsh, MD/PhD, MD

Interim Chair, Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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Rabia Qaiser, MD

Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine Children's
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Ali Rezai , MD

Executive Chair, Vice President and Associate Dean, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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Cara Sedney, MD, MA

Assistant Program Director, Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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Cesar Serrano, MD, FRCSC, FAANS

Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine Children's
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Bill Underwood, MD, PhD

UHC, Neurosurgery, Assistant Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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Joseph Voelker, MD

Program Director, Associate Professor, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
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Rolando Garcia , PA-C

APP, Pain Clinic, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
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