• Peter C. Gerszten, MD

    Peter E. Sheptak Professor of Neurological Surgery Vice Chairman, Quality Improvement Director, Percutaneous Spine Service

Peter C. Gerszten, MD

Peter E. Sheptak Professor of Neurological Surgery Vice Chairman, Quality Improvement Director, Percutaneous Spine Service


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 clinical area of interest 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 both the American Association of Neurological Surgery as well as the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

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 Frontiers in Radiation Oncology.

His publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Outcomes research applied to spinal surgical 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 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

Media Appearances

Experto dice que la Radiocirugía evita la cirugía en el tratamiento de metástasis que afectan a la columna vertebral
November 6, 2013

SBRT in tumours of the spinal column
July 30, 2013

La Radiocirugía. una alternativa eficaz para evitar la cirugía en el tratamiento de metástasis de la columna vertebral
June 11, 2013

Evaluar al paciente, clave en el manejo de columna vertebal
February 1, 2012
Diaro Medico

Stereotactic Radiosurgery Matures Into Mainstream Extracranial Technique (pdf)
August 2010 
Elekta Wavelength

UPMC OnTopic Videos

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
Dr. Gerszten and Jessica Hockley discuss the benefits of anterior cervical discetomu and fusion. (ver en Español)

Radiocirugía de Columna Vertebral: Una Solución Alternativa
El experto en radiocirugía de columna de UPMC, Peter Gerszten, MD, y la asociada médica Jessica Hockley, explican los beneficios de los tratamientos no invasivos de radiocirugía para enfermedades de la columna vertebral en UPMC.

Dr. Gerszten discusses kyphoplasty, a surgical procedure that treats spinal compression fractures

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.” Patient accrual into the phase II trial was successfully completed and have been published. Dr. Gerszten continues to investigate the expanding role of radiosurgery for the treatment of both malignant as well as benign disease. His work evaluating the successful use of cone beam computed tomography image guidance for spine radiosurgery for benign tumors continues to expand.

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. Current efforts include the development and adoption of international standards for contouring and defining targets and organs at risk. These efforts have led to the development and analysis of the largest and most comprehensive database of spine radiosurgery that currently exists. Future initiatives include the use of noninvasive radiosurgery techniques as an ablative tool for extracranial functional procedures such as pain modulation.

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. This research is performed in collaboration with members of the Department of Psychiatry and Department of Geriatrics. One study evaluates the neuropsychiatric and cognitive predictors (e.g. depression and dementia) of surgical outcomes for lumbar spine disease in late-life patients. Another multi-institutional trial evaluates medical co-morbidites and hip osteoarthritis in older patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery. The goal of these studies is to determine if future patients might benefit from proper diagnosis and treatment of these co-morbidities before spine surgery is performed in order to improve the outcomes in this patient population.

Along these same lines, research was undertaken this year to determine the safety and efficacy of percutaneous cement augmentation for compression fractures in very elderly patients. The results indicated that Balloon Kyphoplasty is a highly safe and effective treatment for symptomatic compression fractures, even for very elderly patients. Age alone should not be an exclusion criterion for candidate patients.

Finally, Dr. Gerszten continues to expand and systematically analyze the clinical outcomes and safety profiles associated with the use of new spinal implant devices such as zero profile cervical fusion implants as well as posterior lumbar dynamic stabilization for motion preservation.