Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, FACS

Peter E. Sheptak Professor
Vice Chair, Quality Improvement
Director, Percutaneous Spine Service

Peter Gerszten




Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, is the Peter E. Sheptak Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Gerszten joined the Department of Neurological Surgery and the UPMC Spine Services Division in 1999. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and completed his medical degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed his residency in neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Gerszten obtained a master of public health degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. He completed a fellowship in spinal surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Gerszten specializes in disorders of the spine, focusing on spinal neoplasms. His clinical interests include minimally invasive approaches to the treatment of spinal disorders and spinal tumors. Dr. Gerszten’s area of research is the application of outcomes research to spinal surgical interventions. He is a pioneer in the field of spine radiosurgery and oversees the instruction of this developing area of neurosurgery for the American Association of Neurological Surgery.

Dr. Gerszten is co-editor of the 2015 second edition Spine Radiosurgery, an authoritative textbook—and the first of its kind—on all aspects of spine radiosurgery. He is also co-editor of the book Controversies in Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Best Evidence Recommendations, a 277-page look into an evidence-based approach to stereotactic radiosurgery for the brain and spine.

Dr. Gerszten currently serves on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery, The Spine Journal, The Journal of Radiosurgery and SBRT and Neurosurgical Focus. He also serves on the board of directors of The Radiosurgery Society.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Outcomes research applied to neurosurgical interventions; failed back syndrome; epidural fibrosis; stereotactic radiosurgery of spinal lesions; minimally invasive spine surgical techniques; spinal motion preservation techniques.

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgeons

Hospital Privileges

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC Shadyside
Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
American Academy of Neurological Surgery
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
Cervical Spine Research Society
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Delta Omega Public Health National Honor Society
International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society
Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves
North American Spine Society
Paleopathology Society
Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society
Pennsylvania State Medical Society
The Radiosurgery Society
Sociedad Iberolatinoamericano de Radiocirugia

Education & Training

BA, University of Virginia, 1988
MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1992
MPH, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, 1998
Residency, Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 1999
Fellowship, Spine Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, 2000

Honors & Awards

Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2016-17.

Selected Publications

Kashkoush A, Agarwal N, Paschel E, Goldschmidt E, Gerszten PC. Evaluation of a hybrid dynamic stabilization and fusion system of the lumbar spine: A 10-year experience. Cureus 8(6):e637, 2016.

Mashaly H, Paschel EE, Khattar NK, Goldschmidt E, Gerszten PC. Posterior lumbar dynamic stabilization instead of arthrodesis for symptomatic adjacent-segment degenerative stenosis:  Description of a novel technique. Neurosurgical Focus 40(1):E5, 2016.

Caruso JP, Cohen-Inbar O, Bilsky MH, Gerszten PC, Sheehan JP. Stereotactic radiosurgery and immunotherapy for metastatic spinal melanoma.  Neurosurgical Focus 38(3):E6, 2015.

Redmond KJ, Sahgal A, Foote M, Knisely J, Gerszten PC, Chao ST, Suh JH, Sloan AE, Change EL, Machtay M, Lo SS. Single versus multiple session stereotactic body radiotherapy for spinal metastasis: the risk-benefit ratio. Future Oncology 11(17):2405-15, 2015.

Thibault I, Chang EL, Sheehan J, Ashluwalia MS, Guckenberger M, Sohn M-J, Ryu S, Foote M, Lo SS, Muacevic A, Soltys SG, Chao S, Gerszten PC, Lis E, Yu E, Bilsky M, Fisher C, Schiff D, Fehlibngs MG, Ma L, Chang S, Chow E, Parelukar WR, Vogelbaum MA, Sahgal A. Response assessment after stereotactic body radiotherapy for spinal metastasis: a report from the SPIne response assessment in Neuro-Oncology (SPINO) group. Lancet Oncology 16(16):e595-603, 2015. 

Ryu S, Pugh SL, Gerszten PC, Yin F-F, Timmerman RD, Hitchcock YJ, Movas B, Kanner AA, Berk LB, Followill DS, Kachnic LA. RTOG 0631 phase II/III study of image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery for localized (1-3) spine metastases: Phase II results. Practical Radiation Oncology 4:76-81, 2014.

Guckenberger M, Mantel F, Gerszten PC, Flickinger JC, Sahgal A, Letourneau D, Grills IS, Jawas M, Fahim DK, Shin JH, Winey B, Sheehan J, Kersh R.  Safety and efficacy of Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy as primary treatment for vertebral metastases: a multi-institutional analysis. Radiation Oncology 9:226, 2014.

Gerszten PC. Spine metastases: From radiotherapy, surgery, to radiosurgery. Neurosurgery 61:16-25, 2014.

Sahgal A, Weinberg V, Chang E, Chao S, Muacevic A, Gorgulho A, Gibbs IC, Gerszten PC, Ryu S, Soltys S, Angelov L, Shung Wong C, Ma L, Larson DA. Probabilities of radiation myelopathy specific to stereotactic body radiotherapy to guide safe practice. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 85(2):341-347, 2013.

Bartynski WS, DeJohn LM, Rothfus WE, Gerszten PC. Progressive-onset versus injury-associated discogenic low back pain: Features of disc internal derangement in patients studied with provocation lumbar discography. Interventional Neuroradiology 19(1):10-20, 2013.

A complete list of Dr. Gerszten's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Research Activities

Dr. Gerszten serves as the Neurosurgical Principal Investigator of the National Cancer Institute Supported Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Cooperative Clinical Trial entitled “Phase II/III Study of Single Dose Radiosurgery for Localized Spinal Metastases.” He continues to investigate the expanding role of radiosurgery for the treatment of both malignant as well as benign tumors of the spine. His work evaluating the successful use of cone beam computed tomography image guidance for spine radiosurgery for intradural tumors was published this year. Ongoing research includes the incorporation of spine radiosurgery into minimally invasive and percutaneous spine procedures. Dr. Gerszten’s research related to spine radiosurgery is conducted in cooperation with the International Spine Oncology Study Group as well as the International Spine Radiosurgery Consortium.

This year, Dr. Gerszten successfully developed and performed the first ever use of radiosurgery as an ablative tool for extracranial targets in a small animal model. This study allowed for the evaluation of the clinical and histopathological effects of high dose radiosurgery on the rat dorsal root ganglion. The goal of these investigations is to evaluate the use of radiosurgery as a viable treatment option for neuromodulation of pain of spinal origin.

Dr. Gerszten’s clinical research focuses on the adoption of minimally invasive surgical treatments for disorders of the spine. Such minimally invasive techniques allow for decreased morbidity while improving outcomes in neurosurgical patients. Dr. Gerszten continues to expand and systematically analyze the clinical outcomes and safety profiles associated with the use of new spinal implant devices. Published works this year included a clinical outcomes evaluation of the successful use of zero-profile devices for multi-level anterior cervical spinal fusions surgeries as well as a longitudinal cohort investigation of the development of symptomatic adjacent level compression fractures following Balloon-Assisted Kyphoplasty. Other clinical research has documented the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive sacroiliac joint fusions using titanium screw implants for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Finally, Dr. Gerszten continues to evaluate the role of posterior lumbar dynamic stabilization for motion preservation. A 10-year experience with these technologies was published in the peer review literature.

Dr. Gerszten’s clinical research also focuses on co-morbidities that may prevent patients, especially older patients, from achieving good clinical outcomes after elective lumbar spine surgery. Research performed in collaboration with members of the Department of Psychiatry and Department of Geriatrics and published this year documented the neuropsychiatric correlates of lumbar spine surgery in older adults.

Media Appearances