Columbia Neurosurgery Leads at the 2023 AANS Annual Meeting in Los Angeles

April 26, 2023

Last weekend, our team traveled to Los Angeles for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) 2023 Annual Conference themed "Neurosurgeons as Advocates." The AANS is an educational and scientific group focused on advancing the field, with over 8,000 members worldwide. Our Department Chair, Dr. E. Sander Connolly, currently serves as the organization's Vice President and finance committee member, with Dr. Guy McKhann on the scientific program committee and Dr. Dean Chou on its membership committee. Throughout the conference, our team distinguished itself as innovators and leaders in excellence across all our divisions.  Dr. Chou was also advanced to Senior Co-Chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, an official journal of the AANS.

Dr. Connolly believes that the meeting theme, 'Neurosurgeons as Advocates' is an apt description of the Columbia team, stating, "Each day we advocate for our patients, the students and residents and the hospital community providing the best possible care, translating new scientific knowledge and training the next generation of neurosurgical leaders."

Functional Neurosurgery Showcasing Cutting-Edge Technology Uses 

Dr. McKhann presented an invited talk in the Advanced Practitioners Plenary Session on the "Brain Anatomy and Fundamental Techniques of Brain Mapping" for tumors and epilepsy. He then co-directed the Practical Clinic on brain mapping techniques. Invited world experts updated the audience on protecting patient motor, sensory, language, and higher cognitive functions during brain tumor and epilepsy surgeries. When discussing future implications for brain mapping, Dr. McKhann stated, "We continue to work with worldwide neurosurgical colleagues to advance ways to keep patients safe during surgery for brain tumors and epilepsy."

Dr. McKhann also served as moderator for the Stereotactic and Functional Scientific Session, focusing on advances in surgery for epilepsy and movement

disorders. In this program, Dr. Gordon Baltuch presented an invited lecture on "Clinical Quandaries: Focused Ultrasound Ablation (FUS) vs. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to Treat Essential Tremor. Dr. Baltuch is a pioneer in using focused ultrasound, a noninvasive surgical procedure approved in 2016 to treat essential tremors. 

Innovations in Cerebrovascular 

Dr. Sean Lavine was selected by the Executive Committee of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Joint Cerebrovascular Section and its current Chairperson Billy Mack, M.D (a graduate of the Columbia Neurosurgery Residency) to deliver the Annual Donaghy Lecture. The selected topic "Neuro-Endovascular Surgery in the Last 30 Years: An Era of Evolution within the Revolution."

Dr. Lavine stated, "Our advancement in Interventional Neuroradiology/Endovascular Neurosurgery has been remarkable. As one of the first ten neurosurgeons to practice this wonderful specialty, I have lived through the "neuroendovascular revolution" of improved technology and techniques. I was privileged to share my unique perspective, particularly with the younger practitioners in our field who may not have known the details of the development of our field, which remains one of the great frontiers in all of medicine."

Best in Class: Brain Tumor 

Columbia Neurosurgery received the inaugural Gladiator Award for its first-in-human clinical trial for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a highly

malignant brain tumor. The Gladiator Award is given to a medical student, resident, fellow, or attending physician presenting the top-scoring translational abstract in glioblastoma. In addition, the interdisciplinary team's groundbreaking research was featured in a podium presentation by Dr. Michael Argenziano at the AANS/CNS Tumor section scientific session, where he discussed how we could learn from clinical trials through tissue-based approaches to advance therapy for patients with brain tumors. 


Ahead of the Curve in Spinal Research

Dr. Andrew Chan presented - "Is Laminoplasty Best in 2023 to Treat Cervical Myelopathy?" - during the Contemporary Management of CSM, Lumbar Spondy, and Degenerative Scoliosis session. He shared recent data showing better results for laminoplasty when compared to laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion and engaged in a panel discussion about the optimal approach for CSM surgery. Dr. Chan stated, "The age-old notion that neck pain is a contraindication for laminoplasty may need to be revisited."

He followed this with a presentation on "Scoliosis and Stenosis—How do we Decide Who Needs a Fusion?" He shared clinical cases where decompression alone was best for his patients. Finally, in a panel discussion, Dr. Chan stressed the importance of obtaining full-length and dynamic X-ray imaging to better select scoliosis patients who will fare well with a small surgery.

His mentee, presenting author medical student Eunice Yang discussed, "What Factors Predict the Best Outcomes for Elderly Patients Operated for Grade 1 Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis? A Machine Learning Analysis from the Quality Outcomes Database." By leveraging machine learning, our team can better inform clinical decision-making and understand the surgical factors that lead to optimal patient outcomes.

Celebrating Columbia Neurosurgery's Rich Legacy

Finally, Columbia Neurosurgery hosted an alumni reception to celebrate our program's legendary history and recent accomplishments. Our team continues to build its tremendous legacy, training the next generation of world leaders. Those who have mentored and trained at Columbia Neurosurgery have gone on to have major leadership roles at Weil Cornell, Mt. Sinai, University of Southern California (USC), Johns Hopkins, Northwestern University, University of Cincinnati, Miami, and many other academic institutions. All the med students joined for the full range of the CUIMC Neurological Surgery pipeline, who collectively bring the best and brightest together to focus on our shared mission to tirelessly advocate for our patients as we further revolutionize the field in 2023 and beyond.