Appointments - Spine Neurosurgery

Appointments, Referrals or Consultations
Neurosurgical Spine Referral Line 617-726-8668

For general clinical information or referrals, during normal business hours, please call the Clinical Access Nurse 617-726-2937

The Neurosurgical Spine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in neurosurgical treatment of the entire spectrum of spine disorders, providing services from diagnosis through surgery and rehabilitation.

Neurosurgical Spine Service

Wang Ambulatory Care Center 745
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-726-3511
Fax: 617-643-4115

Public Transportation Access: yes

Lawrence F. Borges, MD

Director, Neurosurgery Spine Center
Director, Neurosurgical Stereoscopic 3D Video Laboratory
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Phone: 617-726-6156
Facsimile: 617-724-7407

Jean-Valéry Coumans, M.D.

Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-726-3511
Fax: 617-643-4115

Jennifer L. Kurz, M.D.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
300 First Avenue
Charlestown, MA 02129
Phone: 617-573-2770
Fax: 617-573-2759

Brian V. Nahed M.D.

Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-724-5805
Fax: 617-724-5806

John H. Shin, MD

Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-726-5252
Fax: 617-643-4680

Brooke Swearingen, MD

Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-726-3910
Fax: 617-726-7546

Harold A. Wilkinson, MD PhD

Director, Neurosurgery Spine Evaluation
Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-643-4102
Fax: 617-643-4114

Ziv Williams, MD

Neurosurgical Associates
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114-3117
Phone: 617-643-4102
Fax: 617-643-4114

Some Conditions Treated in Spine Neurosurgery
  • Arachnoid cysts -

  • Chiari Malformation - A Chiari malformation is a congenital (present at birth) defect in the area of the back of the head where the brain and spinal cord connect.

    What is a Chiari malformation? - The condition is also called Arnold Chiari malformation. There are four types of Chiari malformations, including the following:

    • Type I. Commonly goes unnoticed until problems arise in the adolescent or adult years of life. In this condition, the base of the skull and the upper spinal area are not formed properly.
    • Type II. This is the most common type of Chiari malformation. In this condition, part of the back of the brain shifts downward through the bottom of the skull area.
    • Type II Chiari malformations are typically seen in infants who are born with spina bifida, a neurological condition that causes a portion of the spinal cord and the surrounding structures to develop outside, instead of inside, the body.
    • Type II Chiari malformations can also be associated with a condition known as hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is an overproduction or lack of absorption of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that is found inside of the ventricles (fluid-filled areas) inside of the brain. The increased fluid causes the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull bones to expand to a larger-than-normal appearance.
    • Type III. The back of the brain protrudes out of an opening in the back of the skull area.
    • Type IV. The back of the brain fails to develop normally.

    ... read more ... or see the ...

    Brain Aneurysm & AVM Center: The Endovascular and Open Vascular Neurosurgery Program at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in Neuroendovascular problems of the brain and spinal cord, including brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and carotid disease. For patients with aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) as well as other neurovascular problems of the brain and spinal cord.

  • Diplomyelia or diastematomyelia -

  • Disc Disease (Herniated Disc) - Lumbar disc disease occurs in the lumbar area of the spine. As discs degenerate, fragments of the disc material can press on the nerve roots located just behind the disc space, causing pain, numbness or changes in sensation.

    Anatomy of the lumbar spine - The vertebral column, also called the backbone, is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by spongy disks and classified into four distinct areas. The cervical area consists of seven bony parts in the neck; the thoracic spine consists of 12 bony parts in the back area; the lumbar spine consists of five bony segments in the lower back area; five sacral bones (fused into one bone, the sacrum); and four coccygeal bones (fused into one bone, the coccyx).

    Lumbar disk disease occurs in the lumbar area of the spine. The lumbar area of the spine (and other areas of the spine) is made up of two parts, including the following:

    • Vertebral bodies. The parts that are made of bone.
    • Intervertebral disks (also known as the disks). The disks are located between the bony parts of the spine and act as "shock absorbers" for the spine.

    ... read more ... or see the ...

    Neurosurgery Spine Service: The Neurosurgical Spine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in neurosurgical treatment of the entire spectrum of spine disorders, providing services from diagnosis through surgery and rehabilitation. Neurosurgical evaluation of neck and back pain, nerve compression syndromes, herniated intervertebral discs, and spinal cord compression syndromes.

  • Lipomyelomeningocele -

  • Nerve Root Compression -

  • Spina bifida or Myelomeningocele

  • Spinal Cord Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) -

    Cerebrovascular Malformations - Cerebrovascular Malformations are believed to be developmental vascular anomalies that result from failure of the embryonic vascular network to develop properly

    Arteriovenous Malformations - An AVM is composed of a tightly tangled collection of abnormal-appearing, dilated blood vessels that directly shunt arterial blood into the venous system without the usual connecting capillary network. Blood vessels of the AVM are thin walled and tortuous and lack the normal characteristics of veins or arteries. The three morphologic components of an AVM are the nidus, the feeding arteries, and the draining veins. (The literature often refers to the nidus when discussing AVMs; a nidus is defined as the focus of the AVM, that is, the tangle of abnormal vessels.) The vessels of the AVM vary greatly in diameter, but the veins are generally larger than the arteries. The arterial vessels, also called feeder arteries, supply the AVM. Dilated veins without the usual intervening capillary network drain the lesion. As a result of the absence of the capillary network, blood flow is accelerated and the pressure is elevated within the fragile vessels of the AVM. These conditions predispose the lesion to hemorrhage.

    Cavernous Malformations resemeble a mulberry, or "popcorn-like", appearing lesion in the brain, spinal cord, or nerve roots and are compose of sinusoidal-type vessels that are not separted by normal appearing parenchyma (neural tissue). CMs account for approximately 10% of all symptomatic vascular malformations. They are rare in children, representing peak occurrence in the third and fifth decades of life.

    CMs occur in two forms: sporadic, which is characterized by one lesion, or familial, which is characterized by multiple lesions with a a genetic link of inheritance.

    Dural Arteriovenous Malformations - (Dural AVM; Dural arteriovenous fistulas) are almost always acquired lesions, rather than developmental. Dural AVMs comprise 10% to 15% of all intracranial AVMs. They are defined by the following criteria: (1) the nidus of the arteriovenous shunting is within the cranial dural matter, (2) arterial supply arises exclusively from the extracranial circulation or from the meningeal branches of the intracranial branches, and (3) venous drainage is either directly into the dural venous sinus or into nearby leptomeningeal veins

    Venous Malformations also referred to as venous anomalies, are composed of anomalous veins, separated by normal parenchyma, which drain into a dilated venous trunk. These lesions represent an anomalous pattern of drainage. Typically, the goal is to treat them VMs with conservative management practices, as treatment could lead to a venous infarction.

    Aneurysm - An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the normal diameter.

    What is an aneurysm? - An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel resulting in an abnormal widening or ballooning greater than 50 percent of the vessel's normal diameter (width). An aneurysm may occur in any blood vessel, but is most often seen in an artery rather than a vein.

    ... read more ... or see the ...

    Brain Aneurysm & AVM Center: The Endovascular and Open Vascular Neurosurgery Program at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in Neuroendovascular problems of the brain and spinal cord, including brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and carotid disease. For patients with aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) as well as other neurovascular problems of the brain and spinal cord.

  • Spinal Cord Infections -

  • Spinal Stenosis -

  • Syringomyelia -

  • Tethered Spinal Cords -

  • Acute Spinal Cord Injury - Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is a traumatic injury that either results in a bruise (also called a contusion), a partial tear, or a complete tear (called a transection) in the spinal cord.

    What is an acute spinal cord injury? - Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is due to a traumatic injury that either results in a bruise (also called a contusion), a partial tear, or a complete tear (called a transection) in the spinal cord. SCI is a common cause of permanent disability and death in children and adults.

    ... read more ... read more ... or see the ...

    Neurosurgery Spine Service: The Neurosurgical Spine Service at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in neurosurgical treatment of the entire spectrum of spine disorders, providing services from diagnosis through surgery and rehabilitation. Neurosurgical evaluation of neck and back pain, nerve compression syndromes, herniated intervertebral discs, and spinal cord compression syndromes. Information regarding peripheral nerve (including nerve compression such as carpal tunnel syndrome) and spine surgery.

  • Head Injury - A head injury is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that occur to the scalp, skull, brain, and underlying tissue and blood vessels in the head.

    What is a head injury? - Head injuries are one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults. The injury can be as mild as a bump, bruise (contusion), or cut on the head, or can be moderate to severe in nature due to a concussion, deep cut or open wound, fractured skull bone(s), or from internal bleeding and damage to the brain.

    A head injury is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that occur to the scalp, skull, brain, and underlying tissue and blood vessels in the head. Head injuries are also commonly referred to as brain injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on the extent of the head trauma.

    ... read more ... see also the ...

    Pediatric Neurosurgery : The Pediatric Neurosurgery service at MassGeneral Hospital for Children diagnoses and treats all neurosurgical conditions of infants, children and adolescents, with special expertise in the management of pediatric brain tumors, hydrocephalus, spinal cord disorders, Chiari malformations, craniosynostosis, AVM's and epilepsy surgery.

    ... or see the ...

    Trauma, Emergency, Intensive Care, and General Neurosurgery Center: The Spinal Cord and Head Trauma Center, and the NeuroScience Care Units diagnoses and treats patients with severe spinal cord and brain disorders resulting from trauma. Information on Physical Therapy for Brain Injury.

    Massachusetts General Hospital is a Level 1 Adult and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. MGH has been verified as able to treat the highest severity of trauma patient. MGH admits, on average, 2,000 trauma patients and another 2,000 emergency surgery patients per year, and although the vast majority of our patients are from the Boston metropolitan area, patients are referred to our facility from all over the country.

  • Brain and SpineTumors - A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself, or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain (metastasize). Brain tumors may be classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on their behavior.

    What is a brain tumor? - A benign tumor does not contain cancer cells and usually, once removed, does not recur. Most benign brain tumors have clear borders, meaning they do not invade surrounding tissue. These tumors can, however, cause symptoms similar to cancerous tumors because of their size and location in the brain.

    Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. Malignant brain tumors are usually fast growing and invade surrounding tissue. Malignant brain tumors very rarely spread to other areas of the body, but may recur after treatment. Sometimes, brain tumors that are not cancer are called malignant because of their size and location, and the damage they can do to vital functions of the brain.

    ... read more ... or see the ...

    MGH Brain Tumor Center : The Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital offers the most advanced care for patients with brain tumors and nervous system tumors.

    A coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to the care of adult and pediatric patients with tumors of the nervous system as well as neurologic complications of cancer.

    Malignant Tumors: Information regarding malignant tumors of the brain, spine, and peripheral nerves. Benign Tumors: Information about benign brain tumors including meningioma, epidermoid, dermoid, hemangioblastoma, colloid cyst, subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, and craniopharyngioma.




MGH Neurosurgical Service - Phone: 617-8581 - Massachusetts General Hospital - Fruit Street - Boston, Massachusetts 02114