Department of  Neurosurgery
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Wilson Zachary Ray, MD

Wilson Zachary Ray, MDAssociate Professor of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgery
Neurosurgery Residency Associate Director
Co-Director, Spinal Oncology

Washington University School of Medicine 
Department of Neurological Surgery 
660 S. Euclid Avenue 
Campus Box 8057 
St. Louis, Missouri 63110

Administrative Office: 314-747-6145
Patient Appointments: 314-362-3577 
Fax: 314-362-2107 

Clinical Interests:
Spinal oncology, metastatic spine disease, spinal cord injury, cervical myelopathy, complex cervical   reconstruction, degenerative cervical spine disease, minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery, peripheral nerve tumors, brachial plexus injuries, peripheral nerve injuries, and nerve transfers for spinal cord injury.

Minimally invasive surgery offered by Dr. Ray provides decompression of the spinal cord and nerves through very small incisions. This minimizes muscle and tissue disruption and facilitates more rapid return to normal activity. Dr. Ray specializes in getting patients back to activity rapidly and has treated several high-performance athletes, accelerating their return to play.

Dr. Ray treats both brachial plexus and spinal cord injuries. He is the Principal Investigator on a Department of Defense study using nerve transfers to improve function in patients with a cervical spinal cord injury


Minimally invasive techniques are used by Dr. Ray to treat common spinal disorders. Patients who previously stayed in the hospital for 4 or 5 days routinely leave the next day after surgery with some patients leaving the same day.

Research Interests:
Strategies to improve nerve regeneration and the development of innovative technology targeting peripheral nerve/neuroprosthetic interfaces. The management of spinal cord injuries utilizing novel imaging modalities and surgical techniques to help predict functional recovery and provide patients with spinal cord injuries improved distal limb function.

Dr. Ray is fellowship-trained in both peripheral nerve and spinal oncology. He is the co-director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury and is the principal investigator of multiple clinical trials on acute spinal cord injury and cervical myelopathy.

Learn more about Dr. Ray's lab.

BS, Biology, with honors and distinctions
University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts
Iowa City, IA

MD with distinction in research
University of Iowa College of Medicine
Iowa City, IA

Residency & Fellowships:
Intern, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, Department of Surgery, 2004 – 2005

Resident, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO. Department of Neurosurgery, 2005 – 2008

Research Fellow, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine. Nerve allograft rejection in a murine model. 2008 – 2009

Peripheral Nerve Fellow, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2009 – 2010

Neurosurgical Fellow, Department of Neurosurgery, Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch Public Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2009 – 2010

Chief Resident, Department of Neurosurgery, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, 2010 – 2011

Spine Fellow, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, 2011 – 2012

Hospital Appointments:
Barnes-Jewish Hospital & Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital

Board Certification:
American Board of Neurological Surgeons (2015)


  1. Hitchon P, Santamaria PM, Hasan D, Ray WZ. Avascular Malformations. Medlink Neurology. 2003
  2. Ray WZ, Barua M, Ryken TC. Anatomic Visualization with Ultrasound-Assisted Intracranial Image-Guidance in Neurosurgery: A report of 30 case. Journal of American College of Surgeons. 2004; 199: 338-34
  3. Ray WZ, Lee A, Blackburn SL, Leonard J. Pseudotumor cerebri following corticosteroid taper in an 8 month  old infant: case report. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.2007; 1:88-90 
  4. Leonard J, Leonard J, Ray WZ, Pineda J. Traumatic Brain Injury in Children. Missouri Medical. 2008; 105:404-411
  5. Ray WZ, Strom RG, Blackburn SL, Ashley WW, Sicard GA, Rich KM. The incidence of deep venous thrombosis after subarachnoid hemorrhage. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2009; 110:1010-1014
  6. Ray WZ, Moran CJ, Derdeyn DP, Diringer MN, Dacey RG, Zipfel GJ. Near-complete resolution of angiographic cerebral vasospasm after extreme elevation of mean arterial pressure: case report. Surgical Neurology. 2009; 72:347-353
  7. Ray WZ, Blackburn SL, Casavilca-Zambrano S, Barrionuevo C, Orrego JE, Heinicke H, Dowling JL, Perry A. Clinicopathologic features of recurrent dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor and rare malignant transformation: A report of 5 cases and review of the literature. Journal of Neuro-oncology. 2009; 94:283-292
  8. Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Management of nerve gaps: Autografts, allografts, nerve transfers, and end-to-side neurorrhaphy. Experimental Neurology. 2010; 223:77-85
  9. Moore A, Ray WZ Chenard KE, Tung TH, Mackinnon SE. Nerve allotransplantation as it pertains to composite tissue transplantation. Hand. 2009; 4:239-244
  10. Kasukurthi R, Ray WZ, Lusis EA, Santiago P. Intramedullary capillary hemangioma of the thoracic spine: Case report and review of the literature. Rare Tumors. 2009; Epub 1:e10
  11. Ray WZ, Wright NM. Anterior cervical arthrodesis using an osteoconductive carrier scaffold: the use of beta-tricalcium phosphate with local bone marrow aspirate in over 100 patients. Spine Arthroplasty Society Journal, 2009; 3:3:114-117
  12. Johnston J, Limbrick D, Ray WZ, Brown S, Shimony J, Park TS. Isolated cerebellar Rosai-Dorfman granuloma mimicking lhermitte-duclos: Case presentation and review of the literature. Journal of Neurosurgery; Pediatrics. 2009; 4:188-120
  13. Ray WZ, Kasukurthi R, Papp EM, Moore AM, Yee A, Hunter DA, Mohanakumar T, Mackinnon SE, Tung TH. The role of T-helper cell differentiation in promoting nerve allograft survival with costimulation blockade. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2010; 112:386-393
  14. Ray WZ, Zipfel GJ. Early endovascular coiling of posterior communicating artery aneurysm in the setting of Staphylococcus bacteremia: Case report and review of the literature. Neurosurgery. 2010; 66:E847
  15. Kasukurthi R, Moore AM, Brenner MJ, Moradzadeh A, Luginbhl R, Ray WZ, Santosa KB, Johnson PJ, Mackinnon SE, Hunter DA. Transcardial perfusion versus immersion fixation for assessment of peripheral nerve regeneration. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 2009; 184:303-309
  16. Reynolds MR, Ray WZ, Strom RG, Park TS. The effects of selective dorsal rhizotomy on quality of life in an adult population. World Neurosurgery. 2011; 75:138-144
  17. Ray WZ, Kasukurthi R, Yee A, Mackinnon SE. Functional recovery following an end-to-side neurorrhaphy of the accessory nerve to the suprascapular nerve: case report. Hand. 2010; Nov 10; Epub
  18. Magill CK, Moore AM, Ray WZ, Yang Y, Tong AY, MacEwan MR, Yee A, Hayashi A, Hunter DA, Parsadanian A, Johnson P, Mackinnon SE, Myckatyn TM. The Differential effects of centrally versus peripherally derived glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor on peripheral nerve regeneration. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2010; 223:496-504
  19. Lipira A, Kasukurthi R, Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Intraneural synovial sarcoma of the median nerve: case report and review of the literature. Rare Tumors. 2010; 2:e32; Epub
  20. Kawamura DH, Johnson PJ, Moore AM, Magill CK, Hunter DA, Ray WZ, Tung TH, Mackinnon SE. Matching of motor-sensory modality in the rodent femoral nerve model shows no enhanced effect on peripheral nerve regeneration. Experimental Neurology. 2010; 223:496-504
  21. Ray WZ, Kasukurthi R, Kale S, Johnson PJ, Santosa KB, Yang Y, Mackinnon SE, Tung TH. Effect of cold nerve allograft preservation on antigen presentation and rejection. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2011; 114:256-262
  22. Ray WZ, Murphy RJK, Santosa K, Johnson PJ, Mackinnon SE. Medial pectoral nerve to axillary nerve neurotization following traumatic brachial plexus injuries: Indications and clinical outcomes. Hand. 2011; 7:59-65
  23. Xie J, MacEwan MR, Ray WZ, Liu W, Siewe DY, Xia Y. Radially aligned, electrospun nanofibers as dural substitutes. Nano Letters. 2010; 4:5027 -5036
  24. Ray WZ, Kasukurthi R, Kale S, Johnson PJ, Santosa KB, Yang Y, Mackinnon SE, Tung TH. Costimulation Blockade Inhibits the Indirect Pathway of Allorecognition in Nerve Allograft Rejection. Muscle & Nerve. 2011; 43:120-126
  25. Blackburn SL, Ashley WW, Rich KM, Simpson JR, Dryzmala R, Ray WZ, Moran CJ, Cross DT, Chicoine M, Dacey RG, Derdeyn CP, Zipfel GJ. Combined Endovascular Embolization and Stereotactic Radiosurgery in the Treatment of Large Arteriovenous Malformations. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2011; 114:1758-1767
  26. Ray WZ, Pet MA, Nicoson MC, Yee A, Kahn LC, Mackinnon SE. Two-level motor nerve transfer for the treatment of long thoracic nerve palsy: case report. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2011; 115:858-864
  27. Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Clinical outcomes following median to radial nerve transfers. Journal of Hand Surgery. 2011; 36:201-208
  28. Ray WZ, Pet MA, Yee A, Mackinnon SE. Double fascicular nerve transfer to the biceps and brachialis muscles after brachial plexus injury: clinical outcomes in a series of 29 cases. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2011; 114:1520-1528
  29. Pet MA, Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. New options for nerve transfer to the tricep muscle after brachial plexus injury: A report of four cases. Journal of Hand Surgery. 2011; 36:398-405
  30. Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Nerve problems in the lower extremity. Foot and Ankle Clinics. 2011; 16:243-254
  31. Moore AM, MacEwan M, Santosa KB, Chenard K, Ray WZ, Hunter DA, Johnson PJ, Mackinnon SE. Acellular nerve allografts in peripheral nerve regeneration: A comparative study. Muscle and Nerve 2011; 44:221-234 
  32. Hawasli AH, Ray WZ, Murphy RKJ, Dacey RG, Leuthardt EC. MRI-guided focused laser interstitial thermal therapy for subinsular metastatic adenocarcinoma: Technical Case report. Neurosurgery. 2012; 70:332-7
  33. Yarbrough CK, Murphy RKJ, Ray WZ, Stewart TJ. The natural history and clinical presentation of cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Advances in Orthopedics. 2012; 2012:480643
  34. Ray WZ, Yarbrough CK, Yee A, Mackinnon SE. Clinical outcomes following brachialis to anterior interosseous nerve transfers. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2012; 117:604-609
  35. Murphy RKJ, Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Repair of a complete median nerve transection utilizing multiple nerve transfers with long term functional recovery: case report. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2012; 117:886-9
  36. Jesuraj NJ, Santosa KB, MacEwan M, Moore AM, Kasukurthi R, Ray WZ, Flagg ER, Hunter D, Borschel G, Johnson PJ, Mackinnon SE and Sakiyama-Elbert S. Injection of Schwann Cells Enhances Peripheral Nerve Regeneration. Muscle Nerve. 2013; Epub, DOI:10.1002 
  37. Ray WZ, Krisht K, Dailey A, Schmidt MH.  Clinical outcomes of unstable thoracolumbar burst fractures: Combined posterior short segment correction followed by thoracoscopic corpectomy and fusion. Acta Neurochirurgica. 2013; July;155:1179-1186 
  38. Mackinnon SE, Yee A, Ray WZ. Spinal cord injury bypass technique with nerve transfers for the restoration of hand function after spinal cord injury – case report and review of the literature. Journal of Neurosurgery. 2012; 117:176-185
  39. Ray WZ, Schmidt MH. Thoracoscopic vertebrectomy for thoracolumbar junction fractures and tumors: Surgical technique and evaluation of the learning curve. Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques. 2013; Feb 1 Epub
  40. Reynolds MR, Hawasli AH, Ray WZ, Simpson JR, Drzymala RE, Rich KM. Acute hemorrhage following gamma knife radiosurgery: Case report and literature review. Journal of Spine & Neurosurgery. 2013; 2:2. DOI:10.4172
  41. Ray WZ, Dorward IG, Murphy RKJ, Lusis EA, Blackburn SL, Stewart TJ. Impact of lateral mass variation on ideal polyaxial screw head mobility: technical note. British Journal of Neurosurgery. 2012; 26:864-867
  42. Ray WZ, Krisht KM, Schabel A, Shah L, Schmidt RH. Subarachnoid hemorrhage from a thoracic radicular artery pseudoaneurysm after methamphetamine abuse: Case report. Global Spine Journal. 2013; Epub, DOI:10.1055
  43. Ray WZ, Ravindra V, Jost GF, Bisson EF, Schmidt MH. Comparative cost effectiveness of subaxial fusion – lateral mass screws versus transarticular facet screws. Neurosurgical Focus. 2012; 33:E14
  44. Ray WZ, Ravindra V, Schmidt MH, Dailey AT. Surgical Technique: Stereotactic navigation with the O-arm for placement of S2 alar-iliac screws in pelvic-lumbar fixation. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. 2013;18:490-495
  45. Ray WZ, Ganju A, Harrop JS, Hoh DJ.  Developing an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion simulator for neurosurgical resident training. Neurosurgery. 2013; 73 Suppl 1:100-106
  46. Lusis EA, Vellimana AK, Ray WZ, Chicoine MR, Jost SC. Transient obstructive hydrocephalus due to intraventricular hemorrhage: A case report and review of the literature. J Clin Neurol. 2013;9:192-195
  47. Blackburn SL, Kadkhodayan Y, Ray WZ, Zipfel GJ, Cross DT, Moran CJ, Derdeyn CP. Onyx is associated with poor venous penetration in the treatment of spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas. J Neurointerv Surg. 2014; 6:536-540
  48. Ravindra VM, Ray WZ, Dailey AT. Baclofen pump catheter transection in a charcot spine: A case report and review of the literature. Archives of PMR. 2015; 96: 697-701
  49. Godzik J, Ravindra VM, Ray WZ, Schmidt MH, Bisson EF, Dailey AT. Efficacy of structural allograft in occipitocervical fusion. Journal of Neurosurgery:Spine. 2015; 8:1-9
  50. Ravindra VM, Godzik J, Dailey AT, Schmidt MH, Bisson EF, Hood RS, Ray WZ. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients undergoing elective spine surgery: a prospective analysis. World Neurosurgery. 2014; S1878 –8750
  51. Godzik J, Holekamp T, Limbrick DD, Lenke LG, Park TS, Ray WZ, Kelly MP. Risks and outcomes of spinal reconstructive surgery in chiari malformation with syringomyelia versus adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The Spine Journal. 2015; 15:2002-8
  52. Murphy RKJ, He Y, Schuerer DJE, Ray WZ, Wright NW. Hyperacute stabilization for polytrauma patients with unstable spinal fractures. Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences. 2015; Epub
  53. Hawasli AH, Ray WZ, Wright NW. Symptomatic thoracic spinal cord herniation: case series and technical report. Neurosurgery.2014; 10:3;E498-504
  54. Bumpass DB, Buchowski JM, Park A, Gray BL, Agarwal R, Baty J, Zebala LP, Riew KD, Santiago P, Ray WZ, Wright NM.  An update on civilian spinal gunshot wounds: treatment, neurologic recovery and complications. Spine. 2015; 40:450-461
  55. Hawasli AH, Chang J, Reynolds MR, Ray WZ. Brachialis to Anterior Interosseous nerve transfer as a treatment strategy for cervical spinal cord injury: technical note. Global Spine Journal. 2015; 5:110-117
  56. Sun SQ, Cai C, Ravindra VM, Gamble P, Yarbrough CK, Dacey RG, Dowling JL, Zipfel GJ, Wright NM, Santiago P, Robinson CG, Schmidt MH, Kim AH, Ray WZ.  Simpson grade I-III resection of spinal atypical meningiomas is associated with symptom resolution and low recurrence. Neurosurgery. 2015; 76:739-46
  57. Murphy RK, Sun P, Xu J, Wang Y, Sullivan S, Gamble P, Wagner J, Wright NN, Dorward IG, Riew D, Santiago P, Kelly MP, Trinkaus K, Ray WZ, Song SK. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Biomarker of Axon Loss Reflects Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Severity. Spine. 2015; Epub
  58. Gamble P, Stephen M, MacEwan M, Ray WZ. Serial assessment of functional recovery following nerve injury utilizing implantable thin-film wireless nerve stimulators. Muscle and Nerve. 2015; Accepted
  59. Yarbrough CK, Gamble PG, Janjua MB, Tang M, Ghenbot R, Zhang A, Juknis N, Hawasli AH, Kelly MP, Ray WZ. Readmission after spinal cord injury: Does the weekend effect exist? Journal of Neurological Sciences 2015; Accepted 
  60. Krisht KM, Ray WZ, Dailey AT. Extraspinal dural arteriovenous fistula in a woman with a lumbosacral lipomyelomeningocele: case report and review of the literature. Case Reports in Neurological Medicine. 2015; Epub
  61. Jeong JW, McCall JG, Shin G, Zhang Y, Al-Hasani R, Kim M, Li S, Jang KI, Sim JY, Hong DY, Liu Y, Shi Y, Schmitz GP, Xia L, He Z, Gamble P, Ray WZ, Huang Y, Bruchas MR, Rogers JA. Wireless Optofluidics for programmable in vivo pharmacology and optogenetics. Cell. 2015; 162:662-74
  62. MacEwan M, Gamble P, Stephen M, Ray WZ. Therapeutic Electrical Stimulation of Injured Peripheral Nerve Tissue Utilizing Implantable Thin-Film Wireless Nerve Stimulators. Journal of Neural Engineering. 2015; Accepted
  63. Ray WZ, Chang J, Hawasli A, Wilson TJ, Yang L. Nerve transfers a comprehensive review. Neurosurgery. 2016; 78:1-26
  64. Ravindra VM, Godzik J, Dailey AT, Schmidt MH, Bisson EF, Hood RS, Cutler A, Ray WZ. Vitamin D levels and one-year fusion outcomes in elective spine surgery: a prospective observational study. Spine. 2015; 40:1536-41
  65. Ray WZ, Akbari S, Shah LM, Bisson E. Correlation of foraminal area and response to cervical nerve root injections. Cureus. 2015 7:e286
  66. Ravindra VM, Eskandari R, Godzik J, Ray WZ, Dailey AT. Primary repair of open neural tube defect in adulthood: case example and review of management strategies. The Spine Journal. 2015; S1529-9430
  67. Ray WZ, Dorward IG, Masson R. Intervertebral Microsurgical Access Surgery (iMAS) for Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Neurosurgery. 2016; Epub
  68. Kang SK, Murphy RJK, Hwang SW, Harburg DV, Kruger NA, Gamble P, Cheng H, Yu S, Liu Z, Shin J, McCall JG, Stephens M, Ying H, Park G, Webb RC, Lee CH, Chung S, Wie DS, Gujar A, Kim AH, Lee KM, Cheng J, Huang Y, Braun PV, Ray WZ, Rogers JA. Bioresorbable, wireless silicon sensors for the intracranial space and the deep brain. Nature. 2016; Epub 


    Blackburn SL, Ray WZ, Santiago P, Wright NM. C2 Pars, Pedicle and Translaminar Screws. Cervical Spine Surgery: Current Trends and Challenges. 1st ed, 2013

    Ray WZ, Moore AM, Tung TH, Mackinnon SE. Nerve Allografts. Nerve Surgery. 2nd Ed, 2014

    Moore AM, Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Nerve Conduits. Nerve Surgery. 2nd Ed, 2014

    Yarbrough CK, Ray WZ, Schmidt MH. Treatment of metastatic spinal epidural disease: Surgery versus radiotherapy. Tumors of the Central Nervous System, Vol. 10, 2013

    Ray WZ, Farrokhi FR, Dailey AT. Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. Surgical Anatomy & Techniques to the Spine. 2nd Ed, 2013

    Ray WZ, Kan P, Schmidt MH. Thoracoscopic resection of paraspinal tumors. Spine Surgery. Tricks of the Trade. 3rd Ed, 2013

    Farhadi FH, Ray WZ, Barber S, Gasco J, Brown JM. Peripheral Nerve Surgery, Basics. Essential Neurosurgery Companion. Thieme. 2013