Department of  Neurosurgery
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From left to right: Neill Wright, MD; Ammar Hawasli MD, PhD; Paul Santiago, MD; Ian Dorward, MD; and Zack Ray, MD

Washington University spinal neurosurgeons are recognized as national leaders in the treatment of disorders of the spine, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. The Spine Division includes experienced and fellowship-trained neurosurgeons focused on the care and treatment of spine patients. Adult patients are seen at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and pediatric spine patients are seen at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

We use a multidisciplinary approach to treating spinal diseases and disorders. Personalized care of each patient is emphasized. Where appropriate, spine patients receive comprehensive, collaborative care from both neurosurgeons and specialists in

  • Thoracic surgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • Ear, nose and throat surgery
  • Medical oncology
  • Radiation oncology
  • Anesthesia
  • Pain Management
  • Physiatry

Conditions & Treatments

Washington University spinal neurosurgeons treat the entire spectrum of disorders of the spine and spinal cord, from the routine to the highly complex. The Spine Division has expertise in the treatment of craniocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral disorders. Spinal disorders resulting from degenerative disease, trauma, tumors, inflammatory conditions, congenital and vascular problems, and infectious disease also are treated by the Spine Division.

Spine Journey Guide

Degenerative spinal conditions

  • Back pain
  • Herniated discs (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) 
  • Neck pain 
  • Ossification posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylotic myelopathy
  • Synovial cysts

Traumatic spinal conditions

  • Atlantoaxial instability 
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinal fractures

Tumors of the Spine and Spinal Cord

Benign spinal tumors

  • Aneurysmal bone cysts (ABCs)
  • Eosinophilic granuloma
  • Giant cell tumor
  • Hemangioma
  • Osteoblastoma
  • Osteochondroma
  • Osteoid osteoma

Malignant Spinal Tumors

  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Chordoma
  • Ewing's sarcoma
  • Hemangioblastoma/Von Hippel Landau
  • Lymphoma
  • Metastatic tumors
  • Metastatic breast cancer
  • Metastatic lung cancer
  • Metastatic prostate cancer
  • Metastatic renal (kidney) cancer
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Plasmacytoma
  • Schwannoma
  • Spinal astrocytoma
  • Spinal meningioma

Vascular spinal disorders

  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal arteriovenous malformations
  • Spinal A-V fistulae

Congenital spinal disorders

  • Arachnoid cysts 
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Diastematomyelia
  • Os odontoideum
  • Spina bifida 

Inflammatory spinal disorders

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Autoimmune disorders of the spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis-related spinal conditions

The team receives a significant number of patient referrals from throughout the region. Our spine surgeons are equally skilled in treating straightforward spinal disorders, such as herniated discs and neck and back pain, as well as complicated disorders such as C1-2 instability and tumors of the spine, with many referrals coming from spine surgeons at other hospitals.  

For conservative care and the non-operative treatment of spinal disorders, spine surgeons collaborate with physical and occupational therapy, rehabilitation and physiatry services, and pain management. The Spine Division is associated with The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, providing world-leading rehabilitation services for patients with spinal disorders.


Faculty members of the Spine Division make significant contributions to the advancement of spinal surgery through the development of new techniques, involvement in clinical studies, and publishing of groundbreaking studies on spinal disorders.  Some of the techniques developed for the treatment of complex disorders of the upper cervical spine have been adopted worldwide. 

Adult Neurosurgery Providers

Pediatric Neurosurgery Providers

David Limbrick, MD, PhD
Jennifer Strahle, MD