Dr. Robert F. Spetzler

Specialty: Neurosurgery

Subspecialties: Cerebrovascular neurosurgery, skull base neurosurgery, neurovascular surgery

Board Certification: American Board of Neurological Surgeons

Residencies and Fellowships:
Medical School: Northwestern University Medical School Chicago IL
Internship: General Surgery-Northwestern University, Wesley Memorial Hospital
Residency: University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA

Director, Barrow Neurological Institute
J.N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at BNI
Chairman and President, Barrow Neurosurgical Associates
Professor of Surgery, Section of Neurosurgery, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ



Brain Surgery Made Easy 

Patients, Residents, Colleagues, Touched by Dr. Spetzler 

The 103rd Cardiac Standstill 

The 5000th aneurysm 

What I Did for my Summer Vacation 

Then and Now 

Celebrating 40 Years of Achievement 

20 Years of Achievement 

A Miracle Realized 

A Child, a Bizarre Tumor, and a Perilous Operation 

Renee DeSalvo 

Amanda Anderson 

Kasey Gray 

Tumor detected by 'miracle' 

Alabama Toddler Recovering After Undergoing Lifesaving Brain Surgery In Phoenix
By the early 1980’s, Dr. John Green, who had devoted 20 years of his life building Barrow Neurological Institute into a nationally known institute, began his search for a successor. He chose Robert F. Spetzler from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, who, in 1983, assumed the J.N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at BNI. Two years later, Dr. Spetzler became Director of the Institute. Under his leadership, the BNI has grown from a regional center to an internationally recognized center of excellence, attracting healthcare professionals and patient referrals from around the world. The center is also home to a highly sought and diverse residency program.

Dr. Spetzler was born in Stierhoefstetten, Germany, and moved to the United States at the age of 11. He attended college and medical school in Illinois, and trained as a resident under Charles B. Wilson at the University of California at San Francisco, where he developed an interest in neurovascular surgery.

Some of Dr. Spetzler’s noted accomplishments are:
  • Brought together a group of experienced independent neurosurgeons to form Barrow Neurosurgical Associates more than 25 years ago.
  • Has been instrumental in creating a highly respected neurosurgical residency program at Barrow.
  • In February of 2007, Dr. Spetzler reached a milestone no other neurosurgeon can claim – he performed his 5000th aneurysm procedure.
  • Played a dominant role in developing the “cardiac standstill” into an effective surgical technique for treating large or dangerous cerebral aneurysms. He has performed more of these operations than any physician in the world.
  • Published more than 300 articles in refereed journals, 169 book chapters and 13 neurosurgical textbooks. He has made more than 850 professional presentations.
  • Helped develop several tools and pieces of equipment used in neurosurgical suites around the world, including a 3-D microscope and a titanium aneurysm clip.
A former chief resident at Barrow praised Dr. Spetzler’s qualities as a surgeon: “His confidence, courage and inner strength are the qualities that emerge in the operating room and leave those around him inspired….His mentorship inspires young neurosurgeons to follow his example, to aspire to his level of expertise, and to perpetuate a difficult and demanding craft.”

Never one to sit around, Dr. Spetzler spends his free time with his family, mountain biking with the residents or leading his colleagues in a rim-to-rim crossing of the Grand Canyon. He plays the piano and is an enthusiastic swimmer, tennis player, skier and scuba diver.
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