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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.


Rory Breslin-Sani, APN, is an acute care nurse practitioner with over 10 years of experience in critical care and neurosurgery nursing, working both at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Villanova University and Master of Nursing Science with certification from Rush University. Rory is a published author of a peer reviewed journal on the building neuroscience integrated care units. She has also performed research on patient outcomes after implementation of new devices and hospital protocols as well as Hospital Acquired Pressure Ulcer Prevalence. Rory is a member of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurse, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and American College of Nurse Practitioners. She is certified in Neuroscience and Critical Care nursing.

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 100 manuscripts and book chapters and two textbooks on these subjects. Byrne has been in practice for over 18 years and has performed over 2,000 brain tumor operations and 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.

R. Webster Crowley, MD, joined the department in April 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery. Dr. Crowley is a board-eligible endovascular surgeon. He received his medical degree from The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington D.C. His training consists of neurological surgery residency at University of Virginia, a Neurological Surgery Fellowship at Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand and an endovascular fellowship at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Crowley’s research interests include stroke, aneurysm treatment and subarachnoid hemorrhages and his clinical practice focuses on Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs), Artery Disease, Brain Tumors, Carotid Artery Disease, Cerebral (Brain or Intracranial) Aneurysm, Hemangioblastomas, Ischemic Stroke, Pseudotumor Cerebri, Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) (Mini-stroke).


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.​

Katherine Fasullo (Katie), BSN, RN is a nurse clinical coordinator at Rush University Neurosurgery. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Delaware in 2009 and began her career in Washington, DC, where she spent 1 year on a Medical/Behavioral Health unit and 4 years in a Surgical ICU as a bedside nurse. Katie then joined Rush in the Medical ICU where she worked for 2 years before becoming a member of the neurosurgical team. She is BLS, ACLS, NIHSS, and CCRN certified. Katie works primarily with Dr. Sani, Dr. Chen, Dr. Lopes, and Dr. Crowley.


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.

Dr. 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.

Ricardo B.V. Fontes, MD, PhD, received his medical degree in his home country at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil where he also went on to complete a residency in neurosurgery and receive his Ph.D. Dr. Fontes then completed both a Neurosurgery residency and Spine Neurosurgery Fellowship at Rush University Medical Center before joining the department as an Assistant Professor in Neurosurgery.

Dr. Fontes is a board-eligible neurosurgeon whose area of expertise includes complex and minimally-invasive spine surgery, with a focus in pediatric and adult deformity and scoliosis, motion preservation, brain and spinal cysts, and neuromuscular disorders. Areas of interest for Dr. Fontes in research also include degeneration of the invertebral disc and spinal deformity.




Jamie E. Henry, RN, MSN, ACNP, is a nurse practitioner in neurosurgery department. Prior to working at Rush, Jamie received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Illinois – Champaign and then her master’s degree in nursing at the University of Illinois – Chicago. While working as a nurse in the surgical intensive care unit, she gained great experience caring for a variety of patients from cardio-thoracic to neurosurgical and trauma. She has also taken on many leadership roles including charge nurse, clinical preceptor and annual competency validator. Henry works primarily with Ricardo Fontes, MD.

Kiffon Keigher, ACNP-BC, RN, is a nurse practitioner with over 12 years of experience in neurosurgery and neuroscience nursing. She has been at Rush University Medical Center since 2003 working with the neurologically affected patient population. She worked as a neuroscience ICU nurse before starting her career as an advanced practice provider for University Neurosurgery. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington and completed both her Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing at Rush University College of Nursing.

Kiffon is an accomplished speaker and presenter at national neuroscience meetings and regional conferences. She is published in multiple peer reviewed journals and is a contributing author to AANN Core Curriculum for Neuroscience Nursing. She serves in the role of the Surgical Stroke Team Leader for Rush Comprehensive Stroke Program.
Kiffon works primarily with Demetrius Lopes, MD with a specific interest in patient care outcomes and research specific to cerebrovascular disease. 

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.​

Dr. Lopes also serves as medical director and editor-in-chief of Neurovascular Exchange.

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. Muñ​​oz, 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. 

Lauren Springer, RN, MSN, AGACNP-BC is a nurse practitioner with nearly 10 years of Neurosurgical experience within the critical care setting. Prior to joining the Department of Neurosurgery at Rush, Lauren has worked as a RN in the NSICU at the University of Illinois in Chicago Hospital Health Sciences System, as well as an APN in the SICU at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital. Lauren obtained her Bachelor of Science in nursing at Loyola University Chicago and her Master of Science in nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has board certification as an Adult-Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Lauren works predominantly with Dr. Traynelis.

Lauren Surges, RN, BSN, is a nurse clinician at Rush University Medical Center in Neurosurgery. Lauren received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in May 2010 from University of St. Francis in Joliet. She has worked as a surgical nurse with adults for 5 years. She gained great experience caring for a variety of patients from orthopedic to general surgical and bariatric surgery. She has also worked in pediatrics caring for patients on a neurology, endocrine and neurosurgical unit for 3 years. She has taken on many leadership roles including charge nurse and clinical preceptor. Lauren primarily works with Dr. Traynelis and Dr. Fontes.

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 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals, more than 80 chapters, four books and almost 200 editorials. He is past 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. 

Rey Vela, RN, is a nurse clinician in University Neurosurgery. He believes strongly in Rush’s commitment to provide high quality compassionate care. Rey received his Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2011 from University of Illinois in Chicago. He started in July of 2015 with University Neurosurgery and worked the previous four years in the hospital at Rush University Medical Center’s neuroscience department. Rey primarily works with Dr. Byrne and Dr. Muñoz.


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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Rush University Neurosurgery at Elmhurst
133 E. Brush Hill Rd.
Ste. 205
Elmhurst Memorial Center For Health
Elmhurst , IL 60126
Phone: 331.221.5707
Fax: 312.942.2176
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