Neurological Surgery

The neurological surgery residency is a seven-year program: one year of integrated surgical internship followed by six years of neurosurgical training, including four and a half years of clinical neurosurgery instruction. The residency includes one year of elective and/or research time and three-month rotations each in clinical neurology and in neuroradiology/pathology.

The graduate education program in neurological surgery at Northwestern University provides the opportunity for residents to become highly competent full-spectrum neurological surgeons.

Two to three candidates are appointed each year. To complete the program, residents must pass the written examination of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Residency Program

Graduate education in neurological surgery emphasizes integration of clinical and basic neurosciences. A considerable strength of this residency program is the large volume of patients seen at the participating hospitals. Residents gain extensive experience in all areas of neurological surgery, such as cerebrovascular, spine, pediatric, neuro-oncology, neurotrauma, and stereotactic and functional neurological surgery, including radiosurgery and surgery for intractable pain and epilepsy.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s superior facilities include multiple neurosurgical operating suites. Three of the suites are fully equipped with facilities for intraoperative angiography and fluoroscopy, micro- and laser surgery, neurophysiologic monitoring, and computer-based image-guided stereotactic spine and cranial surgery. The hospital uses the gamma knife for noninvasive treatment of brain tumors and many other neurological diseases of the brain. A 23-bed neurosurgery intensive care unit and an 11-bed step-down intensive care unit are available. The Acute Spinal Cord Injury Program also is located at Northwestern Memorial. The hospital offers a full range of ancillary facilities and a well-equipped neuroradiology section with full-time interventional neuroradiologists.

Spinal surgery at Northwestern Memorial includes advanced treatment for patients with spinal cancer, skeletal deformity, and degenerative disease. An active program is in place for minimally invasive spine surgery. State-of-the-art techniques include spinal instrumentation, laparoscopy, and frameless stereotaxis of the spine.

Children's Memorial Hospital, one of the country's premier pediatric institutions, offers experience in the entire spectrum of pediatric neurological surgery.

Resident research time is supplemented by an optional additional year of intensive instruction in a basic neuroscience discipline under the direction of a full-time investigator. Residents are strongly encouraged to play active roles in the neuroscience instruction of first-year medical students.

Interested candidates are invited to apply for a clerkship at Northwestern Memorial.


The department is actively involved in clinical and basic neuroscience research. Areas of research being pursued include:

Cerebrovascular Disease. With neuroradiology, the use of endovascular devices for treatment of aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations.

Spine Disease
. Study of the etiology and mechanics of scoliosis. Finite element analysis of the spine. Clinical outcome. Tracking and evaluation. Genetic basis of scoliosis. Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and treatment for primary and metastatic tumors of the spine. Development of minimally invasive approaches for degenerative spinal diseases.

Pediatric Neurosciences
. Mechanisms of closure of the neural tube. Intellectual development of children with myelodysplasia and closed head injury.

. Molecular biologic approaches to the study of angiogenesis and invasiveness of malignant brain tumors. Novel drug development for brain tumor chemotherapy. Tumor cell markers and cell typing in malignant brain tumors. Stereotactic radiotherapeutic techniques for the adjuvant treatment of malignant brain tumors.

Functional Neurological Surgery
. Evaluation of the efficacy of intrathecally administered novel non-narcotic analgesic agents in experimental neuropathic pain and human clinical trials. Isolation and characterization of HIV-1 from neurologically symptomatic AIDS patients to determine molecular mechanisms of neurotropism and neuropathogenicity. Characterization of the blood-brain barrier and its disruption in the setting of neurologic HIV infection. Evaluation of the neurotoxicity and efficacy of novel antiviral agents for the treatment of opportunistic viral infections of the nervous system.

. Evaluation of the effect of free radical scavenger agents on the outcome of patients with head injury. Participant in the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System.

In conjunction with the Northwestern University Institute for Neuroscience, the department also offers outstanding laboratory and clinical research opportunities in a broad range of neuroscience disciplines.

Department Chair

Andrew T. Parsa, MD, PhD

Residency Program Director

Aruna Ganju, MD

For more information, contact Residency Program Coordinator Samantha Lauren at or visit the Department of Neurological Surgery web site.