Barrow Neurological Institute

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Barrow Neurological Institute
Dignity Health
Neuroscience Tower A at the Barrow Neurological Institute
Location350 West Thomas Rd, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Coordinates33°28′51″N 112°04′46″W / 33.480726°N 112.079483°W / 33.480726; -112.079483Coordinates: 33°28′51″N 112°04′46″W / 33.480726°N 112.079483°W / 33.480726; -112.079483
Hospital typeTeaching Hospital, Research Institute
Emergency departmentLevel I trauma center
Beds64 Neuroscience ICU beds, 80 Neuroacute Beds
ListsHospitals in Arizona

Barrow Neurological Institute is the world's largest neurological disease treatment and research institution, and is consistently ranked as one of the best neurosurgical training centers in the United States.[1] Founded in 1961, the main campus is located at 310 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona.


Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center is the world's largest dedicated neurosurgical center and a leader in neurosurgical training, research, and patient care.[2] More operative neurosurgical procedures take place at BNI than at any other institution in the United States.[2] Under the directorship of Dr. Robert F. Spetzler,[3] and Dr. Volker Sonntag, the institution's unique capabilities and achievements are recognized internationally.

Started by Dr. John Green and Dr. Betty Clements as a regional center for patients with neurosurgical issues, the institution has rapidly expanded over the last 30 years.[2] Barrow receives referrals from all over the world and is internationally recognized for the treatment of disorders such as cerebrovascular aneurysms, hypothalamic hamartomas and other brain tumors, complex spinal disorders, stroke and Parkinson's disease at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. The center is home to the largest neurosurgical residency program in the United States, and hundreds of neurosurgeons from around the world visit yearly to attend the Spetzler-Rhoton Skull Base Course and the Barrow Symposium.[4]

Clinical volume[edit]

One of Two Neuroscience Towers at the BNI.

The clinical volume at Barrow Neurological Institute is unparalleled by any other institution in the world.[5] There are 11 dedicated neurosurgical ORs, typically with 2 cases per room, averaging 18 to 20 cases per weekday and 100 cases per week. Previous figures reported to the ACGME for re-accreditation in 2007-8 academic year was a total of 6,681 cases (not including the majority of supplementary procedures).[5] Additionally, the institution is home to a 64-bed neurosurgical ICU, the largest of its kind in the world. The neurosurgical operating rooms at Barrow were completed in 2006[6] and are still considered state of the art.[5] Each operating room is about two times the size of a traditional operating room and fitted with three 64-inch plasma screens, two high definition cameras, and access to a single 3T intraoperative MRI.[6] These 11 dedicated neurosurgical operating rooms with ancillary staff sub-specialized only in neurosurgical care, are the most of any single institution in the world.


Barrow Neurological Institute accepts four residents per year to its neurological surgery residency program, making it the largest program of its kind in the country.[7] Graduates from the program have gone on to chair other neurosurgical programs, head various national neurosurgical societies, and have patented a number of neurosurgical devices.[5] Due to Barrow Neurological Institute's high clinical volume and emphasis on resident education, the center has garnered a reputation for producing technical masters in numerous fields within neurosurgery, and has become one of the most sought after neurosurgical training programs in the world.[2]

Barrow Neurological Institute also offers three fellowships: Cerebrovascular under the direction of Dr. Robert F. Spetzler, Neuroendovascular under the direction of Drs. Felipe C. Albuquerque and Andrew F. Ducruet, and Spinal Neurosurgery under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Theodore.[2]


In 2014, Doximity/U.S. News & World Report ranked the Neurosurgical Residency Program at Barrow Neurological Institute as the #2 training program in the U.S.[1] Additionally, in 2014 Khan et al. performed a comprehensive analysis of the academic productivity of 1225 Neurosurgeons in the United States. The authors found that the Barrow Neurosurgery Department was #2 in terms of overall academic productivity.[8]

Neurosurgery Softball[edit]

BNI Softball

The BNI Softball team, known as the "Chiefy's," are the winningest team at the Annual Neurosurgery Charity Softball Tournament hosted by Columbia University in New York City.[9] The tournament, which benefits brain tumor research, is a competition among 30 teams representing the top neurosurgical institutes from across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The Chiefy's began participating in the tournament in 2009, and have since won five titles in six years (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015), the most of any team.[10]

Current neurosurgical faculty[edit]

  • Robert F. Spetzler - Honored Guest, CNS
  • Volker K.H. Sonntag - Honored Guest, CNS
  • Curtis Dickman - Chairperson, AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves
  • Felipe C. Albuquerque - Vice-Chair AANS/CNS CV Section, Editor JNIS
  • David F. Barranco
  • Steve Chang
  • Brian C. Fitzpatrick
  • Andrew F. Ducruet
  • David Fusco
  • Mark Garett
  • Andrew Little
  • Taro Kaibara
  • U. Kumar Kakarla
  • Frederick F. Marciano
  • Peter Nakaji - AAN/CNS CV Section Program Co-chair
  • Stephen M. Papadopoulos - CNS President
  • Randall W. Porter - Founder of Medical Memory
  • Nader Sanai - Scientific Program Chair, AANS/CNS Section on Tumors
  • P David Adelson - CNS President
  • Andrew G. Shetter
  • Laura Snyder
  • Kris A. Smith - President, Arizona Neurosurgical Society
  • John E. Wanebo
  • William L. White
  • Joseph M. Zambraski - Founding member, Resident CSNS Committee

In popular culture[edit]

  • I Want to Thank My Brain For Remembering Me, by Jimmy Breslin - former Pulitzer Prize winner's book on his treatment at the Barrow Neurological Institute For a brain aneurysm[11]
  • The Vow (2012) - movie based on the real story of patient treated at the Barrow Neurological Institute who woke up with severe memory loss after a TBI
  • Pam Reynolds case - notable standstill operation performed by Robert F. Spetzler that took place at the Institute in 1991 in which a 35-year-old American woman was induced into clinical death for the removal of a large aneurysm in her brain, later to accurately recall the events after claiming to have had a near-death experience[12]
  • Ronan (song) - song by Taylor Swift on Ronan Thompson, a young boy with neuroblastoma treated at Barrow Neurological Institute
  • The Healing Blade - written by Edward J. Sylvester, the book covers the history of Barrow Neurological Institute and the standstill procedure popularized by Robert Spetzler


  1. ^ a b "US News Rankings".
  2. ^ a b c d e Lochhead RA, Abla AA, Mitha AP, Fusco D, Almefty K, Sanai N, Oppenlander ME, Albuquerque FC. A history of the Barrow Neurological Institute. World Neurosurg. 2010 Jul;74(1):71-80
  3. ^ "Dr. Robert F. Spetzler".
  4. ^ Kick, Shelley A.; Sonntag, Volker K.H.; Spetzler, Robert F. (1997). "Neurosurgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute". Neurosurgery. 41 (4): 930–937. doi:10.1097/00006123-199710000-00030.
  5. ^ a b c d Barrow Residency Brochure.
  6. ^ a b Padilla, S. (2006). "In a League of its Own". Barrow Magazine. Vol. 18 no. 2.
  7. ^ Barrow Residency Website. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 May 2013. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  8. ^ Khan, N. R.; Thompson, C. J.; Taylor, D. R.; Venable, G. T.; Wham, R. M.; Michael Lm, 2nd; Klimo Jr, P. (2014). "An analysis of publication productivity for 1225 academic neurosurgeons and 99 departments in the United States". Journal of Neurosurgery. 120 (3): 746–55. doi:10.3171/2013.11.JNS131708. PMID 24359012.
  9. ^ "Softball Tournament".
  10. ^ "BNI Softball Champions". 2011-06-07.
  11. ^ Breslin, Jimmy (1997-09-01). Jimmy Brezler. ISBN 978-0316118798.
  12. ^ "BBC: PAM SEES GOD. NDE Pam Reynolds. Amazing! Full version!".

External links[edit]