University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Christopher P. Ames, MD

Christopher P. Ames, MD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF; Director, UCSF Spine Tumor and Spinal Deformity Surgery

Research Summary

Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery

Director of Spinal Deformity & Spine Tumor Surgery

Co-director, Spinal Surgery and UCSF Spine Center

Director, California Deformity Institute

Director, Spinal Biomechanics Laboratory

Dr. Ames is the director of spinal deformity and spine tumor surgery and co-director of the combined high risk spine service, the Neurospinal Disorders Program, and the UCSF Spine Center. He is board certified in neurosurgery. He was named to the 2015-2019 Top Doctors lists in San Francisco Magazine, and among America’s Top Doctors for both neurosurgery and cancer from 2010 to 2019. His tumor practice focuses on en bloc tumor resection for chordoma, chondrosarcoma, giant cell tumor, soft tissue sarcoma, sacral tumors, and other primary and metastatic tumors. While at UCSF, Dr. Ames developed and published the transpedicular approach to previously unresectable cervical and cervical thoracic tumors. He serves as Spine Section Lead editor for Operative Neurosurgery.

Dr. Ames serves as the UCSF site director for the International Spinal Deformity Study Group and the AO Scoli-Risk Study. He also directs the neurosurgical spinal deformity service, which performs over 200 cases per year for correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, flat back, and chin-on-chest deformity in ankylosing spondylitis. His research work in spinal deformity has won the prestigious Hibbs award, as well as the Moe award, the Goldstein award, and Whitecloud awards from the Scoliosis Research Society. Dr Ames developed and published the first ever classification for cervical spine deformity and cervical osteotomy with the international spine study group. He is known for developing many innovative concepts to allow safer treatment planning and risk characterization for complex spine surgery such as the adult deformity frailty index, the adult deformity invasiveness index and co-founding and directing the non profit research group Global Spine Analytics which has pioneered the use of Artificial Intelligence Decision Support Tools for Adult Scoliosis and Deformity Surgery. In 2019 Dr Ames published the first Machine Learning based Adult Scoliosis Classification.

He is internationally recognized for his work in spine tumor, deformity, scoliosis and cervical kyphosis and has published over 400 peer-reviewed publications. He has been the honored international guest lecturer of the Australian Spine Society, the Argentine Spine Society, Berlin Spine Society, Brazilian Spine Society, the Japanese Orthopedic Association and the Japanese Neurosurgical Society, the Korean Spine Society, and the Asian Pacific Spine Society. He has served as chairman for over 100 national and international courses to teach advanced tumor and deformity techniques to neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons around the world and has been visiting professor at Hospital for Special Surgery, UCLA, and Massachusetts General Hospital.


Dartmouth College, BA, 1989
University of California, Los Angeles, MD, 1994
University of California, San Diego, 1994-1995, Surgical Internship
University of California, San Diego, 1995-2000, Resident, Neurological Surgery
Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, 2001-2002, Spine Fellow

Professional Experience

  • 2002-present
    Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 2017
    Scoliosis Research Society GOLDSTEIN Award
  • 2015 - 2017
    Top Doctors in Neurosurgery - San Francisco Magazine
  • 2015
    North American Spine Society Value Award
  • 2010 -2016
    Americaʻs Top Surgeons, Castle Connolly
  • 2010 -2016
    Americaʻs Top Doctors for Cancer, Castle Connolly
  • 2011 -2012
    US News and World Report Top 1% Neurosurgeons in Country
  • 2001
    University of California, San Diego, Chairmanʻs Prize
  • 1994
    University of California, Los Angeles, CAAlpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
  • 1989
    Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Cum Laude

Selected Publications

  1. Line B, Bess S, Lafage V, Ames C, Burton D, Kim HJ, Gupta M, Hart R, Klineberg E, Kelly M, Kebaish K, Hostin R, Mundis G, Schwab F, Shaffrey C, Smith JS. Counseling Guidelines for Anticipated Postsurgical Improvements in Pain, Function, Mental Health, and Self-image for Different Types of Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2020 Aug 15; 45(16):1118-1127.
    View on PubMed
  2. Jain A, Yeramaneni S, Kebaish KM, Raad M, Gum JL, Klineberg EO, Hassanzadeh H, Kelly MP, Passias PG, Ames CP, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Bess S, Lafage V, Glassman S, Carreon LY, Hostin RA. Cost-Utility Analysis of rhBMP-2 Use in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2020 Jul 15; 45(14):1009-1015.
    View on PubMed
  3. Safaee MM, Ames CP, Smith JS. Epidemiology and Socioeconomic Trends in Adult Spinal Deformity Care. Neurosurgery. 2020 Jul 01; 87(1):25-32.
    View on PubMed
  4. Yang J, Lafage R, Gum JL, Shaffrey CI, Burton D, Kim HJ, Ames CP, Mundis G, Hostin R, Bess S, Klineberg EO, Smith JS, Schwab F, Lafage V. Group-based Trajectory Modeling: A Novel Approach to Classifying Discriminative Functional Status Following Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Study of a 3-year Follow-up Group. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2020 Jul 01; 45(13):903-910.
    View on PubMed
  5. Hayashi K, Boissière L, Cawley DT, Larrieu D, Kieser D, Berjano P, Lamartina C, Gupta M, Silvestre C, Protopsaltis T, Bourghli A, Pellisé F, Annis P, Papadopoulos EC, Kreichati G, Pizones J, Nakamura H, Ames CP, Obeid I. A new classification for coronal malalignment in adult spinal deformity: a validation and the role of lateral bending radiographs. Eur Spine J. 2020 Jun 25.
    View on PubMed
  6. Lonner B, Castillo A, Jain A, Sponseller P, Samdani A, Kelly M, Ames C, Eaker L, Marrache M, Shah SA. The patient generated index and decision regret in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Spine Deform. 2020 Jun 25.
    View on PubMed
  7. Lau D, Haddad AF, Deviren V, Ames CP. Complication profile associated with S1 pedicle subtraction osteotomy compared with 3-column osteotomies at other thoracolumbar levels for adult spinal deformity: series of 405 patients with 9 S1 osteotomies. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020 Jun 19; 1-11.
    View on PubMed
  8. Smith JS, Buell TJ, Shaffrey CI, Kim HJ, Klineberg E, Protopsaltis T, Passias P, Mundis GM, Eastlack R, Deviren V, Kelly MP, Daniels AH, Gum JL, Soroceanu A, Gupta M, Burton D, Hostin R, Hart R, Lafage V, Lafage R, Schwab FJ, Bess S, Ames CP. Prospective multicenter assessment of complication rates associated with adult cervical deformity surgery in 133 patients with minimum 1-year follow-up. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020 Jun 19; 1-13.
    View on PubMed
  9. Segreto FA, Passias PG, Brown AE, Horn SR, Bortz CA, Pierce KE, Alas H, Lafage V, Lafage R, Smith JS, Line BG, Diebo BG, Kelly MP, Mundis GM, Protopsaltis TS, Soroceanu A, Kim HJ, Klineberg EO, Burton DC, Hart RA, Schwab FJ, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP. The Influence of Surgical Intervention and Sagittal Alignment on Frailty in Adult Cervical Deformity. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2020 Jun 01; 18(6):583-589.
    View on PubMed
  10. Durand WM, Daniels AH, Hamilton DK, Passias P, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, LaFage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey C, Gupta M, Kelly MP, Klineberg E, Schwab F, Burton D, Bess S, Ames C, Hart R. The spino-pelvic ratio: a novel global sagittal parameter associated with clinical outcomes in adult spinal deformity patients. Eur Spine J. 2020 Jun 01.
    View on PubMed
  11. Soroceanu A, Smith JS, Lau D, Kelly MP, Passias PG, Protopsaltis TS, Gum JL, Lafage V, Kim HJ, Scheer JK, Gupta M, Mundis GM, Klineberg EO, Burton D, Bess S, Ames CP. Establishing the minimum clinically important difference in Neck Disability Index and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores for adult cervical deformity. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020 May 29; 1-5.
    View on PubMed
  12. Durand WM, Daniels AH, Hamilton DK, Passias P, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, LaFage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey C, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Schwab F, Burton D, Bess S, Ames C, Hart R. Artificial Intelligence Models Predict Operative Versus Nonoperative Management of Patients with Adult Spinal Deformity with 86% Accuracy. World Neurosurg. 2020 May 17.
    View on PubMed
  13. Lau D, Deviren V, Joshi RS, Ames CP. Comparison of perioperative complications following posterior column osteotomy versus posterior-based 3-column osteotomy for correction of rigid cervicothoracic deformity: a single-surgeon series of 95 consecutive cases. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020 May 08; 1-10.
    View on PubMed
  14. Virk S, Elysee J, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Schwab F, Kim HJ, Burton D, Passias P, Protopsaltis T, Smith J, Ames C, Lafage R, Lafage V. Defining an Algorithm of Treatment for Severe Cervical Deformity Using Surgeon Survey and Treatment Patterns. World Neurosurg. 2020 Apr 25.
    View on PubMed
  15. Safaee MM, Tenorio A, Osorio JA, Choy W, Amara D, Lai L, Molinaro AM, Zhang Y, Hu SS, Tay B, Burch S, Berven SH, Deviren V, Dhall SS, Chou D, Mummaneni PV, Eichler CM, Ames CP, Clark AJ. The impact of obesity on perioperative complications in patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2020 Apr 24; 1-10.
    View on PubMed
  16. Passias PG, Segreto FA, Bortz CA, Horn SR, Pierce KE, Naessig S, Brown AE, Jackson-Fowl B, Ahmad W, Oh C, Lafage V, Lafage R, Smith JS, Daniels AH, Line BG, Kim HJ, Uribe JS, Eastlack RK, Hamilton DK, Klineberg EO, Burton DC, Hart RAA, Schwab FJ, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP, Bess S. Probability of severe frailty development among operative and nonoperative adult spinal deformity patients: an actuarial survivorship analysis over a 3-year period. Spine J. 2020 Apr 20.
    View on PubMed
  17. Daniels AH, Reid D, Durand W, Disilvestro K, Hamilton DK, Passias P, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, LaFage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey C, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Schwab F, Burton D, Bess S, Ames C, Hart R. Sexual Dysfunction Secondary to Lumbar Stiffness in Adult Spinal Deformity Patients Before and After Long-Segment Spinal Fusion. World Neurosurg. 2020 Apr 18.
    View on PubMed
  18. Daniels AH, Reid DBC, Durand WM, Line B, Passias P, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, LaFage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey C, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Schwab F, Burton D, Bess S, Ames C, Hart RA. Assessment of Patient Outcomes and Proximal Junctional Failure Rate of Patients with Adult Spinal Deformity Undergoing Caudal Extension of Previous Spinal Fusion. World Neurosurg. 2020 Apr 17.
    View on PubMed
  19. Ogura Y, Gum JL, Hostin RA, Robinson C, Ames CP, Glassman SD, Burton DC, Bess RS, Shaffrey CI, Smith JS, Yeramaneni S, Lafage VF, Protopsaltis T, Passias PG, Schwab FJ, Carreon LY. Cost-effectiveness of surgical treatment of adult spinal deformity: comparison of posterior-only versus anteroposterior approach. Spine J. 2020 Apr 12.
    View on PubMed
  20. Pierce KE, Passias PG, Alas H, Brown AE, Bortz CA, Lafage R, Lafage V, Ames C, Burton DC, Hart R, Hamilton K, Kelly M, Hostin R, Bess S, Klineberg E, Line B, Shaffrey C, Mummaneni P, Smith JS, Schwab FA. Does Patient Frailty Status Influence Recovery Following Spinal Fusion for Adult Spinal Deformity?: An Analysis of Patients With 3-Year Follow-up. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2020 Apr 01; 45(7):E397-E405.
    View on PubMed

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