Columbia Neurosurgery at World Congress of Neurosurgery (WFNS2023) in Cape Town

Representing Neurosurgery on the World’s Stage

December 12, 2023

Last week, Columbia Neurosurgery’s Dr. Chris Winfree and Dr. Sean Lavine were some of the distinguished guests who attended the 18th World Congress of Neurosurgery in Cape Town, South Africa. Since 1957, the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies has hosted a World Congress of Neurosurgery every four years, with its 2023 installment hosting over three thousand attendees. Professionals from all corners of the world came together to discuss some of the timeliest topics in global neurosurgery, including showcasing the next generation: the best and the brightest trainees and young neurosurgeons, advocacy in neurosurgery to impact public policy, the contributions of nursing and rehabilitation professionals, cutting-edge basic and translational neuroscience as well as some of the recent innovations in neurosurgery and partnerships with industry.

This year’s WFNS Scientific Program Chair, Dr. Anthony Figaji, Professor and Head of Clinical Unit: Pediatric Neurosurgery, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, stated, “What particularly moved me is the degree to which people loved and embraced the idea that they were coming back to Africa. They loved that this could be a vehicle to share their common humanity, and I think the organization is better for it.”

Columbia Neurosurgery’s Dr. Chris Winfree joined as one of the world’s leading experts on the peripheral nerve. On Sunday, Dr. Winfree served as faculty in the Pre-congress Peripheral Nerve Workshop, an intimate cadaver course teaching residents, fellows, and attendings peripheral nerve surgical exposures firsthand. On Tuesday, Dr. Winfree was the speaker in the Masterclass in Anatomy: Peripheral Nerve Surgery session, giving a presentation on “Posttraumatic Painful Neuromas.” Later Friday, Dr. Winfree served as a speaker at the Peripheral Nerve Specialty Session on Nerve Tumors, presenting on “Treatment of Nerve Pain Syndromes.” He also served as moderator with Dr. Nora Dengler, Senior Physician at Charite - University Medicine Berlin in Germany, during the Surgical Technique: Video Sessions: Peripheral Nerve. Said Dr. Winfree, “We had a great discussion about how nerve surgeons do their jobs worldwide. Turns out a lot of us do things the same way.” 

Dr. Sean Lavine, who serves as Chief of Columbia Neurosurgery’s Cerebrovascular Division attended to formally represent the Society of University Neurosurgeons (SUN) where he serves as President.  He represented the executive committee of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies to vote on the new slate of officers, rules and regulations changes, and to evaluate and decide on future sites.

“The WFNS was a unique opportunity to meet with and discuss the challenges of Neurosurgery with the leaders in the field from all over the world.” Dr. Lavine reflected. “While networking with neurosurgeons from all corners of the globe, I was particularly pleased to meet with a female neurosurgeon from Nigeria who has been charged with developing and organizing endovascular Neurosurgery in Nigeria. Currently, the country has no dedicated vascular neurosurgical centers; therefore, they cannot perform thrombectomy for acute stroke nor provide minimally invasive procedures to treat cerebrovascular disease. We will be working in the future to help them develop this program, and the WFNS provided a truly unique opportunity to assist in developing endovascular neurosurgery in underserved areas. There is a tremendous need for expertise, education and mentoring to develop centers of excellence in neurosurgery subspecialties in many parts of the world. The WFNS meeting was a springboard to share our expertise at Columbia with these areas in great need of modernizing neurosurgical care.”

Dr. Winfree and Dr. Lavine truly enjoyed their time at WFNS 2023 in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. Said Dr. Winfree, “Cape Town is fantastic! I look forward to returning with my family.”

Dr. Sean Lavine, Dr Nelson Oyesiku, WFNS Current President and Dr. Michael Kaiser (Former Columbia Neurosurgery Spine Faculty)