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Section of Neurosurgery

The Section of Neurosurgery at the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services is fully integrated with its partner sections of Neurology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Translational Neurosciences within the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

With this highly integrated and programmatic approach, sub-specialized care is provided to our patient population. This population includes the geographic region of Southern Alberta as well as Eastern British Columbia in the Kootenay Region and Western Saskatchewan, encompassing an approximate catchment population of 2.5 million. Care is provided by 16 neurosurgeons, all of whom are sub-specialists and also provide general and emergency neurosurgical services. 

Specialized programs include cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery, epilepsy neurosurgery, adult hydrocephalus, neuro-oncology, skull base surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, peripheral nerve surgery, functional neurosurgery, stereotactic radiosurgery and spine surgery. In partnership with neurology, rehabilitation medicine, orthopedic surgery, neuroradiology, and radiation oncology, our members provide the highest quality of sub-specialized care for this patient population. 

The total operative volume delivered by neurosurgeons was 1,996 cases in 2015-16, with 1,896 operative cases at Foothills Medical Centre and 100 at Alberta Children’s Hospital. There were another approximately 100 cases of bedside and Intensive Care Unit procedures, about 300 cases of endovascular procedures in the neuro-interventional suite, and roughly 100 radiosurgery cases.


  • Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin, our recent recruit from the University of Utah School of Medicine,  joined our pediatric neurosurgery team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Dr. Riva-Cambrin, a well-respected clinician-researcher and surgeon, assumed the mantle of neurosurgery residency program director from Dr. John Hurlbert.
  • After two decades of service and commitment, Dr. John Hurlbert left our institution to become Co-Director of the Spine Program in the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Dr. Hurlbert’s contributions to organized spinal neurosurgery and medical education on a national level are well known and his departure marked a loss to Calgary and Canada. 
  • Our academic highlight remains the Charles Taylor Memorial Lectureship that pays homage to Calgary’s first neurosurgeon. In 2016, Dr. Robert Spinner, Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery and Professor of Neurosurgery and Orthopedics and Anatomy from the Mayo Clinic, was the 12th Annual Charles Taylor lecturer. 
  • Numerous respected professors and neurosurgeons visited us this past year, including Drs. Manashe Zaaroor (Rambam Health Care Campus, Israel), Chris Honey (University of British Columbia), Adnan Siddiqui (University of Buffalo), David Kallmes (Mayo Clinic), Fred Lenz (Johns Hopkins), Babu Welch (University of Texas Southwestern), Andres Lozano (University of Toronto), and Norm Relkin (Weill Cornell Medical College).
  • For the ninth year running, the highly regarded Spine and Peripheral Nerve Anatomy and Surgery Course exposed neurosurgery and orthopedic residents from across the country to the nuances of spine and peripheral nerve surgery in a unique, hands-on supportive environment using didactic and cadaveric methods.
  • In 2015, Dr. Garnette Sutherland was awarded the University of Calgary, Department of Surgery, Distinguished Service Award. 


The neurosurgery residency training program continues to be the pride of the section. Two new residents are accepted each year, with a current allotment of 17 trainees. The program is known for providing training in a collaborative and collegial environment where the highest quality of service and education are delivered. 

In addition to hands-on and didactic teaching of residents, the faculty contributes significantly to undergraduate medical education teaching in the small group curriculum, as well as clerkship rotations. Nine fellows joined our section in various subspecialties, which is another positive indicator of Calgary’s strong reputation for excellent training and care.


Members continue to be involved in intensive research, with several of them having peer reviewed and funded basic science and or clinical research programs. 

Many of these members partner with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and several faculty members have been granted full or affiliated membership. Areas of research strength and accomplishment include clinical trials in spinal cord injury research, basic bench research in nerve regeneration, deep brain stimulation, traumatic brain injury, laboratory work using brain tumour initiating stem cells, and intravascular stent development. 

We also proudly house one of the world’s foremost laboratories in surgical robotics.