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University Neurosurgeons are involved in all aspect of neurological care, including brain and spine surgery. The conditions we treat include aneurysms, AVMs, epilepsy, tumors and Parkinson's disease. Neurosurgeons also specialize in minimally invasive approaches to spinal stenosis, disc herniation and other degenerative spine conditions. Our neurosurgeons collaborate with neurologists, neuroradiologists, critical care nurses and other specialists to address the full scope of problems affecting the brain, spine and nervous system. The highly skilled multidisciplinary team at Rush provides compassionate, personalized care in what are often complex situations, and dedicates itself to enhancing patient care through research both in the lab and in the clinic and education. Recent additions to our neurosurgical staff demonstrate our commitment to innovation, collaboration, growth and excellence.


Richard W. Byrne, MD, Chairman, completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois in 1987 and received his medical doctorate at Northwestern University Medical School in 1991. Byrne graduated from the neurosurgical residency training program at Rush University Medical Center in 1997 and joined the faculty after additional training in epilepsy and brain tumor surgery.

Byrne is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in surgical treatment for epilepsy, skull base and brain tumor surgery, pituitary surgery, trigeminal neuralgia and radiosurgery. He has been actively involved in a number of epilepsy and brain tumor surgery trials, basic science research in epileptogenesis and brain tumor genetics and has authored more than 75 manuscripts and book chapters on these subjects. Byrne has been in practice for over 15 years and has performed over 1,000 brain tumor operations and over 500 epilepsy surgeries.

Michael Chen, MD, is an experienced neurointerventionalist with an appointment as associate professor in neurology, neurosurgery and radiology. He received his medical degree in his home state at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. His training includes a neurology residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a cerebrovascular disease fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an interventional neuroradiology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Chen's practice focuses on minimally invasive treatments of brain and spinal cord vascular disease and he has personally treated hundreds of patients throughout the Midwest. He was awarded a 2012 Brain Aneurysm Foundation grant to study cerebral aneurysms in women. He has also led hospital initiatives that combine checklists and electronic medical records to further improve the quality of care for the patient with cerebrovascular disease. Chen was recently elected to serve on the Rush University Medical Staff Executive Committee.

For more information about Michael Chen, MD, please visit the Rush Center for Neuroendovascular Surgery section.

Harel Deutsch, MD, is co-director of the Rush Spine and Back Center, and his subspecialty is spine surgery. He is skilled in complex spinal procedures and spine tumor surgery. Deutsch specializes in the care of patients with degenerative and traumatic disease of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine with a strong emphasis on minimally invasive surgery.

Deutsch has a special interest in failed previous spine surgery and failed back syndrome. He is also involved in research on motion preservation technology and artificial disk technology.

Deutsch has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and has published abstracts and book chapters. His research interest is in the etiology of chronic back pain. He is also involved in professional education on a national level and is an associate editor at
Deutsch earned his medical degree from University of Miami School of Medicine, graduating with honors in 1996. He completed his internship in surgery and residency in neurosurgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Following his residency, Deutsch continued with a spine surgery fellowship at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He joined Rush University Medical Center in Chicago in 2003.​

Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD received his medical degree from University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in Chicago. At University of Chicago, Fessler completed an internship in general surgery and a residency in neurosurgery, as well as post-doctoral research fellowships in neurological surgery and psychiatry.

Fessler is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery.  He is dedicated to finding innovative methods to repair spinal cord injuries, and he has been a pioneer in minimally invasive spine surgery. Fessler has made significant contributions to endoscopic and microendoscopic surgical developments, including microendoscopic discectomy and microendoscopic compression of lumbar stenosis.  He has a special interest in spinal cord transplantation, and was the first physician in the United States to perform human embryonic spinal cord transplantation.

Candace Frazier, RN, BSN, is a nurse clinician in University Neurosurgery. Candace received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in January 2004 from Saint Xavier University in Chicago. She has been a part of University Neurosurgery for four years and worked previously with the inpatient neurosurgical population at Rush.

Candace works primarily with Harel Deutsch, MD.

Kiffon Keigher, RN, MSN, ACPN, is a nurse practitioner with many years experience in neurosurgery and neuroscience nursing.  She has been at Rush University Medical Center since 2003. She worked for seven years as a neuroscience ICU nurse before starting her career as an advanced practice nurse. She completed both her BSN and MSN degree at Rush University, and has certification as an acute care nurse practitioner. She also holds certifications as a CNRN (certified neuroscience RN) and CCRN (certified critical care RN). She is BLS, ACLS, PALS and NIHSS certified.

She is published in the journals of Endovascular Today. She is a member of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau.

Kiffon works primarily with Demetrius Lopes, MD.​

Demetrius K. Lopes, MD, is highly skilled in neuroendovascular therapy, an innovative approach in treating brain and spinal cord diseases from inside the blood vessels. He specializes in the revascularization of brain including the treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, cerebral ischemia, stroke and the conditions leading to stroke. Lopes has written many articles and chapters on various aspects of neuroendovasclar therapy, including carotid stenting.

Lopes began his medical education in 1987 at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. After completing his doctorate in medicine in 1993, he held a surgical internship at the University of Illinois and Cook County hospitals. In 1994, he accepted a residency in neurology at the Indiana University Medical Center, and in 1995 accepted a residency in neurological surgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He remained at SUNY-Buffalo, where he completed an endovascular fellowship. Lopes joined the medical staff of Rush University Medical Center in 2001.​

Roham Moftakhar, MD, received his medical degree from the George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. He completed his residency in neurosurgery at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. Moftakhar went on to complete fellowships in endovascular and cerebrovascular neurosurgery as well as skullbase and complex brain tumor surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

With this dual training, Moftakhar specializes in treating vascular diseases of the brain with either endovascular techniques or open surgery, depending on which route is better for the patient. He also has expertise in the treatment of complex brain tumors and other cranial pathologies. In addition, Moftakhar performs general and spinal neurosurgical consultations and procedures.

Moftakhar’s areas of expertise include brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), cavernous malformation, carotid disease, extracranial to intracranial bypass surgery, spinal AVM and dural fistula, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, pituitary tumors, astrocytomas, fourth ventricular tumors, brainstem tumors, trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm and spine surgery.​

Robyn Mudro Flanders, RN, MS, CS-ACNP, CNRN, is expert in the field of neurosurgical nursing with over 20 years of experience. She has worked in many areas of neurosurgical nursing, including as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit, a head nurse, a clinical nurse specialist and her current position as a nurse practitioner and clinical manager of University Neurosurgery.

Robyn completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing at St. Xavier University and her Master of Science in nursing at University of Illinois at Chicago. She graduated with honors at both St. Xavier University and University of Illinois at Chicago. She achieved her postgraduate certification as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in 1997 from University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds the following certifications: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Certified Neuroscience RN (CNRN).
Robyn is an accomplished speaker and has presented nationally on areas related to neurosurgery and neurosurgical nursing. She is currently a member of the following professional organizations: Rush University Cancer Center, American Association of Critical Care, American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, Society of Critical Care Medicine and Sigma Theta Tau. She is involved in several clinical research projects related to evaluation and treatment of the neurosurgical patient.
Robyn works primarily with Lorenzo Muñoz, MD.​

Lorenzo F. Munoz, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon, received his medical degree from the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico, where he graduated with high honors. He completed his neurosurgical internship and residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago. There he developed special skills for the treatment of intracranial pathology, with particular emphasis on complex brain/spinal cord tumors and cerebrovascular disease such as aneurysms, cavernous malformation and AVMs. He is also experienced in the treatment of congenital conditions like Chiari I malformation and spinal dysmorphysm. Muñoz completed two fellowships on neurosurgical critical care and pediatric neurosurgery.

In partnership with Aidnag Diaz, MD, MPH, of Radiation Oncology, 312-RUSH-MET (787-4638) was created for patients or loved ones who have been diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer. Your call will be answered by Muñoz for a personalized consultation and a variety of treatment options in hopes of combatting this disease and preserving quality of life. Please email with more questions about this program or find us on the Web at

John O'Toole, MD, MS, received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and went on to complete a residency in neurological surgery at the Neurological Institute of New York at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the University of Chicago. In 2011, O'Toole received his Master of Science in clinical research from Rush University Graduate Medical College.

O'Toole specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, spinal oncology (including spinal column and spinal cord tumors), complex spinal reconstruction, spinal arthroplasty and spinal radiosurgery. His research interests are clinical outcomes for spinal surgery, image-guided spinal surgery, evidence-based guideline developments, translational application of spinal biologics and development of new spinal surgical techniques and devices.​

​​Sepehr Sani, MD received his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio.  He completed his residency in neurological surgery at Rush University in Chicago.  Dr. Sani also completed two fellowships in stereotactic, functional and epilepsy neurosurgery at Rush University and the University of California in San Francisco. 

Areas of Dr. Sani’s clinical interest include deep brain stimulation, vagal nerve stimulation, microvascular decompression, epilepsy surgery, temporal lobectomy, corpus callosotomy, hemispherectomy, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, headaches, epilepsy, trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm and obesity.

Dr. Sani’s research interests include clinical trials with gene therapy for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, deep brain stimulation for treatment of gait disorders in Parkinsonian patients, and deep brain stimulation for treatment of morbid obesity. 

Vincent C. Traynelis, MD, received his medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, where he also completed an internship in general surgery and a residency in neurosurgery.

Traynelis is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in complex spine surgery, spinal deformity, spinal arthroplasty, spinal reconstruction, spinal tumors, spinal cord tumors and minimally invasive spine surgery. He is past president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Cervical Spine Research Society, and past chairperson of the Joint Section of Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves. He is the chairman of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery Spine. 
Traynelis is a regularly invited speaker at continuing medical education programs and is a frequent guest lecturer in this country as well as abroad. He has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, more than 65 chapters, four books and almost 200 editorials. He is chairman of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery Spine. Traynelis also serves on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery, Spine, The Spine Journal and the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Operative Techniques. He is a director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
Traynelis' research interests include cervical spine surgery, spinal infections, operative monitoring and spinal biomechanics. He has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army. 

Andrea Whedon, RN, MSN, FNP, is a nurse practitioner who has been at Rush University Medical Center for over five years. Throughout this time she has specialized in the post-operative management of neurosurgical and cardiovascular-thoracic patients in the inpatient setting. Her roles have included charge nurse and nurse preceptor which involved training new nurses to care for these patient populations. She received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Northern Illinois University and Master of Nursing Science with certification as a family nurse practitioner from Rush University.

Andrea is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse Practitioners and American Association of Neuroscience Nursing.

Andrea works primarily with John O'Toole, MD.​

Margaret Yesko, RN, MSN, ANP, is an accomplished nurse practitioner who has been at Rush University Medical Center for more than 10 years. She has extensive experience in both neurology and neurosurgery. Yesko completed her bachelor of science in nursing at Marquette University and her Master of Science of nursing with certification as an adult nurse practitioner at Rush University.

She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Neuroscience Nurses and the American Academy of Neurology.
Margaret currently works primarily with Richard W. Byrne, MD

At Rush, neurosurgeons collaborate with neurologists, neuroradiologists, otolaryngologists, critical care nurses and other specialists to address the full scope of problems affecting the brain, spine and nervous system.  Below are conditions and surgical treatments offered at the University Neurosurgery Clinic at Rush:

Brain conditions:
·     Chiari Malformation
·     Hydrocephalus
·     Trigeminal Neuralgia
Brain and Spinal tumors:
·      Acoustic neuromas
·      Chondroma esthesioneuroa
·      Craniopharyngioma
·      Epidermoid Cyst
·      Glioma
·      Astrocytoma
·      Ependymoma
·      Glioblastoma
·      Oligodendroglioma
·      Meningioma
·      Metastatic brain tumor
·      Pineal tumor
·      Pituitary tumor
·      Schwannoma
·      Skullbase tumor
·      Spinal Tumor
Treatment for brain and spinal tumors includes stereotactic radiosurgery.
Spine conditions and treatments: 
·      Back pain
·      Compression fractures
·      Herniated disk
·      Kyphoplasty
·      Minimally invasive spine surgery
·      Myelopathy
·      Nerve compression syndromes
·      Radiculopathy
·      Spinal cord injury
·      Spinal deformity
·      Spinal fracture
·      Spinal oncology
·      Spinal radiosurgery
·      Spinal stenosis
·      Spondylolisthesis
·      Vertebroplasty
Vascular and stroke-related conditions and treatments:
·      Aneurysm
·      Arteriovenous malformations
·      Carotid stenosis
·      Cavernoma
·      Cerebrosvascular disease
·      Endovascular treatment
·      Moyamoya disease
·      Stroke
·      Vascular malformations

Treatment for vascular and stroke-related conditions include the latest endovascular procedures.
Deep brain stimulation treatment for:
·      Dystonia
·      Parkinson disease
·      Tremors
Comprehensive epilepsy surgery:
·      Corpus callosotomy
·      Hemispherectomy
·      Multiple subpial transaction
·      Vagus nerve stimulation
Pediatric neurological conditions:
·      Brain tumors
·      Chiari malformation
·      Craniosynostosis
·      Epilepsy
·      Hydrocephalus
·      Spina bifida
·      Myelopmeningocele
·      Spinal lipoma
Other Conditions and Surgical Treatments:
·      Brachial plexus injury
·      Brachial plexus tumor
·      Carpal tunnel
·      Lumbar plexus injury
·      Lumbar plexus tumor
·      Nerve tumors
·      Ulnar nerve

Accreditation and Recognition

University Neurosurgery
1725 W. Harrison St.
Professional Building III
Suite 855
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (312) 942-6644
Fax: (312) 942-2176
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DuPage Medical Group
430 Warrenville Rd.
Suite 300
Lisle, IL 60532
Phone: (312) 942-6644
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