The Division of Neurosurgery has access to some of Canada’s most advanced technology and operating rooms and is a national leader in research and teaching.
The Division of Neurosurgery has a long tradition of integrating academic medicine into clinical practice, and contributing to the development of new neurosurgical knowledge. The division’s focus on research began with the neurovascular laboratory of Dr. Bryce Weir in the 1970s and 1980s, followed by the contributions of Dr. Kenneth Petruk to neuro-oncology in the 1990s. Today, the division is actively focused on research in perioperative imaging, functional neurosurgery, epilepsy, degenerative spinal conditions, and neurovascular clinical trials. Dr. Tejas Sankar – in collaboration with the Peter S. Allen MR Research Centre and the Department of Biomedical Engineering – continues to develop novel applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in neurosurgery.
The Comprehensive Epilepsy Program in collaboration with contributions from the Divisions of Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Department of Biomedical Engineering are national leaders in imaging in epilepsy. Clinical trials in neurovascular disease have also become a focus over the last decade, driven by the multidisciplinary neurovascular team.
Facilities and Technology
Neurosurgical care is carried out at the two major tertiary care hospitals: The University of Alberta Hospital (UAH) and the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH). All pediatric neurosurgery is conducted at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, which is located at the university site. The RAH, in addition to general neurosurgery, has a large complex spine practice.
The UAH provides general neurosurgery and vascular, epilepsy and functional neurosurgery care. It also has the Dan and Bunny Widney Intraoperative 3T MRI, one of the few operating room (OR) suites in Canada with a state-of-the-art 3T MRI integrated into the OR theatre. This allows complex imaging (diffusion tractography, functional MRI, etc.) to be done inside the OR.
The UAH site is also home to the Brown and Scott Advanced Imaging and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Unit, which allows outpatient neurosurgical treatment of many neurological conditions, including brain tumors, trigeminal neuralgia and vascular malformations. Furthermore, the UAH has multiple biplanar angiography suites required for the endovascular treatment of patients with complex vascular problems. All these innovative projects are part of a growing, $80-million “Brain Centre” being developed through the philanthropic efforts of the University Hospital Foundation. The centre is the vision of Dr. Keith Aronyk. Its final phase will include a new 25-bed neuro intensive care unit.
Residency training has been a priority at the University of Alberta for over 50 years. The Neurosurgical Residency Program is based primarily at the UAH, with residents also carrying out pediatric neurosurgery rotations at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and an adult rotation at the RAH. Strengths of the program include: Exposure to the breadth of neurosurgery subspecialties; relatively high volume of cases per number of residents; simulation laboratory experience; mentored research projects and a structured neurosurgical educational curriculum. The program is undergoing the transition to Competency by Design (CBD) under the guidance of Dr. Cian O’Kelly, a national leader in CBD. Graduates from our program are currently working throughout the world in both academic and non-academic programs.