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. Goldberg J, Bayerl SH, Witzel C, Aigner F, Ames CP, Vajkoczy P. Surgical workflow for fully navigated high sacral amputation in sacral chordoma. Neurosurg Rev. 2019 Nov 18.
    View on PubMed
  2. Neuman BJ, Harris A, Jain A, Kebaish KM, Sciubba DM, Klineberg EO, Kim HJ, Zebala L, Mundis GM, Lafage V, Passias P, Lafage R, Protopsaltis TS, Bess S, Hamilton DK, Scheer JK, Ames CP. Reciprocal Changes in Cervical Alignment After Thoracolumbar Arthrodesis for Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Nov 15; 44(22):E1311-E1316.
    View on PubMed
  3. Kim HJ, Virk S, Elysee J, Passias P, Ames C, Shaffrey CI, Mundis G, Protopsaltis T, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Smith JS, Burton D, Schwab F, Lafage V, Lafage R. The morphology of cervical deformities: a two-step cluster analysis to identify cervical deformity patterns. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Nov 15; 1-7.
    View on PubMed
  4. 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). 2019 Nov 08.
    View on PubMed
  5. Decker S, Lafage R, Krettek C, Hart R, Ames C, Smith JS, Burton D, Klineberg E, Bess S, Schwab FJ, Lafage V. Is Sacral Extension a Risk Factor for Early Proximal Junctional Kyphosis in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery? Asian Spine J. 2019 Nov 01.
    View on PubMed
  6. Horn SR, Passias PG, Oh C, Lafage V, Lafage R, Smith JS, Line B, Anand N, Segreto FA, Bortz CA, Scheer JK, Eastlack RK, Deviren V, Mummaneni PV, Daniels AH, Park P, Nunley PD, Kim HJ, Klineberg EO, Burton DC, Hart RA, Schwab FJ, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP. Predicting the combined occurrence of poor clinical and radiographic outcomes following cervical deformity corrective surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Nov 01; 1-9.
    View on PubMed
  7. Lau D, Deviren V, Ames CP. The impact of surgeon experience on perioperative complications and operative measures following thoracolumbar 3-column osteotomy for adult spinal deformity: overcoming the learning curve. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Oct 25; 1-14.
    View on PubMed
  8. Safaee MM, Ames CP, Smith JS. Epidemiology and Socioeconomic Trends in Adult Spinal Deformity Care. Neurosurgery. 2019 Oct 17.
    View on PubMed
  9. 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). 2019 Oct 15.
    View on PubMed
  10. Attiah M, Gaonkar B, Alkhalid Y, Villaroman D, Medina R, Ahn C, Niu T, Beckett J, Ames C, Macyszyn L. Natural history of the aging spine: a cross-sectional analysis of spinopelvic parameters in the asymptomatic population. J Neurosurg Spine. 2019 Sep 27; 1-6.
    View on PubMed
  11. Line BG, Bess S, Lafage R, Lafage V, Schwab F, Ames C, Kim HJ, Kelly M, Gupta M, Burton D, Hart R, Klineberg E, Kebaish K, Hostin R, Eastlack R, Shaffrey C, Smith JS. Effective Prevention of Proximal Junctional Failure in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery Requires a Combination of Surgical Implant Prophylaxis and Avoidance of Sagittal Alignment Overcorrection. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Sep 12.
    View on PubMed
  12. Protopsaltis TS, Soroceanu A, Tishelman JC, Buckland AJ, Mundis GM, Smith JS, Daniels A, Lenke LG, Kim HJ, Klineberg EO, Ames CP, Hart RA, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Schwab FJ, Lafage V. Should Sagittal Spinal Alignment Targets for Adult Spinal Deformity Correction Depend on Pelvic Incidence and Age? Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Sep 06.
    View on PubMed
  13. Protopsaltis TS, Ramchandran S, Tishelman JC, Smith JS, Neuman BJ, Mundis GM, Lafage R, Klineberg EO, Hamilton DK, LaFage V, Gupta MC, Hart RA, Schwab FJ, Burton DC, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP. The Importance of C2-Slope, a Singular Marker of Cervical Deformity, Correlates with Patient Reported Outcomes. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Sep 06.
    View on PubMed
  14. Ames CP, Smith JS, Gum JL, Kelly M, Vila-Casademunt A, Burton DC, Hostin R, Yeramaneni S, Lafage V, Schwab FJ, Shaffrey CI, Bess S, Pellisé F, Serra-Burriel M. Utilization of Predictive Modeling to Determine Episode of Care Costs and to Accurately Identify Catastrophic Cost Non-warranty Outlier Patients in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: A Step Toward Bundled Payments and Risk Sharing. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Sep 06.
    View on PubMed
  15. Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Kelly MP, Yanik EL, Lurie JD, Baldus CR, Edwards C, Glassman SD, Lenke LG, Boachie-Adjei O, Buchowski JM, Carreon LY, Crawford CH, Errico TJ, Lewis SJ, Koski T, Parent S, Kim HJ, Ames CP, Bess S, Schwab FJ, Bridwell KH. Effect of Serious Adverse Events on Health-related Quality of Life Measures Following Surgery for Adult Symptomatic Lumbar Scoliosis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Sep 01; 44(17):1211-1219.
    View on PubMed
  16. Bortz CA, Passias PG, Segreto F, Horn SR, Lafage V, Smith JS, Line B, Mundis GM, Kebaish KM, Kelly MP, Protopsaltis T, Sciubba DM, Soroceanu A, Klineberg EO, Burton DC, Hart RA, Schwab FJ, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP. Indicators for Nonroutine Discharge Following Cervical Deformity-Corrective Surgery: Radiographic, Surgical, and Patient-Related Factors. Neurosurgery. 2019 Sep 01; 85(3):E509-E519.
    View on PubMed
  17. Burton DC, Sethi RK, Wright AK, Daniels AH, Ames CP, Reid DB, Klineberg EO, Harper R, Mundis GM, Hlubek RJ, Bess S, Hart RA, Kelly MP, Lenke LG. The Role of Potentially Modifiable Factors in a Standard Work Protocol to Decrease Complications in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: A Systematic Review, Part 1. Spine Deform. 2019 Sep; 7(5):669-683.
    View on PubMed
  18. Sethi RK, Burton DC, Wright AK, Lenke LG, Cerpa M, Kelly MP, Daniels AH, Ames CP, Klineberg EO, Mundis GM, Bess S, Hart RA. The Role of Potentially Modifiable Factors in a Standard Work Protocol to Decrease Complications in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: A Systematic Review, Part 2. Spine Deform. 2019 09; 7(5):684-695.
    View on PubMed
  19. Durand WM, Daniels AH, Hamilton DK, Passias PG, 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. Younger Patients Are Differentially Affected by Stiffness-Related Disability Following Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. World Neurosurg. 2019 Aug 31.
    View on PubMed
  20. Ames CP, Smith JS, Pellisé F, Kelly MP, Gum JL, Alanay A, Acaroglu E, Pérez-Grueso FJS, Kleinstück FS, Obeid I, Vila-Casademunt A, Burton DC, Lafage V, Schwab FJ, Shaffrey CI, Bess S, Serra-Burriel M. Development of Deployable Predictive Models for Minimal Clinically Important Difference Achievement Across the Commonly Used Health-related Quality of Life Instruments in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Aug 15; 44(16):1144-1153.
    View on PubMed

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