Christopher P. Ames MD

Christopher Ames MD

Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery

Director of Spine Tumor & Spinal Deformity Surgery

Co-director, Spinal Surgery and UCSF Spine Center

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 and 2016 Top Doctors lists in San Francisco Magazine, and among America’s Top Doctors for both neurosurgery and cancer from 2010 to 2016. 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.

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 internationally recognized for his work in spine tumor, deformity, and scoliosis and cervical kyphosis and has published over 300 peer-reviewed publications. He has been the honored international guest lecturer of the Australian Spine Society, the Argentine Spine Society, the Kuwait Neurosurgical Society, the Korean Spine Society, and the Asian Pacific Spine Society. He has served as chairman for over 40 national courses to teach advanced tumor and deformity techniques to neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons and has been visiting professor at Cedars Sanai, University of Southern California, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 2005, Dr. Ames was sought out by the NBC show "Three Wishes" to perform surgery for a patient with severe scoliosis. Although she had been previously told that she would remain permanently paralyzed, the operation allowed her to walk again. For more information, see the The Daily Star's report: Local Woman Gets Wish, Walks Again

Dr. Ames was also featured on abc 7 when he performed a ground-breaking surgery to remove a spinal cord tumor from a patient in Northern California. Read the story here.


Education, Training, and Previous Positions

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

Selected Professional Memberships and Appointments

The Cervical Spine Research Society
The International Society for Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS)
Scoliosis Research Society – Research and Adult Deformity Committee
Spine Section Lead Editor, Operative Neurosurgery 

Selected Honors and Awards

2010-16: America's Top Surgeons, Castle Connolly
2010-16: America's Top Doctors for Cancer, Castle Connolly
2015-2016: Top Doctors, San Francisco Magazine
2013 Scoliosis Research Society Hibbs Award
2013 Scoliosis Research Society Moe Award
2013 Scoliosis Research Society Whitecloud Award
2015 Scoliosis Research Society Whitecloud Award
2015 Scoliosis Research Society Goldstein Award
2015: North American Spine Society Value Award
2015 Scoliosis Research Society Hibbs Award nominee
2016 Scoliosis Research Society Hibbs Award nominee
2016 Scoliosis Research Society Whitecloud Award nominee

Selected Recent Publications

Ames CP, Smith JS, Eastlack R, Blaskiewicz DJ, Shaffrey CI, Schwab F, Bess S, Kim HJ, Mundis GM Jr, Klineberg E, Gupta M, O'Brien M, Hostin R, Scheer JK, Protopsaltis TS, Fu KM, Hart R, Albert TJ, Riew KD, Fehlings MG, Deviren V, Lafage V; International Spine Study Group. Reliability assessment of a novel cervical spine deformity classification system. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 Dec;23(6):673-83. doi: 10.3171/2014.12.SPINE14780. Epub 2015 Aug 14. PubMed PMID: 26273762.

Ames C, Traynelis VC, Vaccaro AR. Introduction. Dynamic stabilization of the spine. Neurosurg Focus. 2016 Jan;40(1):E1. doi: 10.3171/2015.10.FOCUS15539. PubMed PMID: 26721575.

Safaee M, Oh T, Barbaro NM, Chou D, Mummaneni PV, Weinstein PR, Tihan T, Ames CP. Results of spinal fusion after spinal nerve sheath tumor resection. World Neurosurg. 2016 Jan 20. pii: S1878-8750(16)00094-2. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2016.01.015. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26802866.

Scheer JK, Osorio JA, Smith JS, Schwab F, Lafage V, Hart RA, Bess S, Line B, Diebo BG, Protopsaltis TS, Jain A, Ailon T, Burton DC, Shaffrey CI, Klineberg E, Ames CP; and the International Spine Study Group. Development of Validated Computer Based Pre-operative Predictive Model for Proximal Junction Failure (PJF) or Clinically Significant PJK with 86% Accuracy Based on 510 ASD Patients with 2-year Follow-up. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Apr 1. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27046638.

Demirkiran G, Theologis AA, Pekmezci M, Ames C, Deviren V. Adult Spinal Deformity Correction with Multi-level Anterior Column Releases: Description of a New Surgical Technique and Literature Review. Clin Spine Surg. 2016 May;29(4):141-9. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000000377. PubMed PMID: 27044020.

Passias PG, Soroceanu A, Yang S, Schwab F, Ames C, Boniello A, Smith J, Shaffrey C, Boachie-Adjei O, Mundis G, Burton D, Klineberg E, Hart R, Hamilton DK, Sciubba DM, Bess S, Lafage V. Predictors of Revision Surgical Procedure Excluding Wound Complications in Adult Spinal Deformity and Impact on Patient-Reported Outcomes and Satisfaction: A Two-Year Follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016 Apr 6;98(7):536-43. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.14.01126. PubMed PMID: 27053581.

Hostin R, Robinson C, O'Brien M, Ames C, Schwab F, Smith JS, Lafage V, Gupta M, Hart R, Burton D, Bess S, Schaffrey C, McCarthy I. A Multicenter Comparison of Inpatient Resource Use for Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Apr;41(7):603-9. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001280. PubMed PMID: 27014953.

Jalai CM, Passias PG, Lafage V, Smith JS, Lafage R, Poorman GW, Diebo B, Liabaud B, Neuman BJ, Scheer JK, Shaffrey CI, Bess S, Schwab F, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group (ISSG). A comparative analysis of the prevalence and characteristics of cervical malalignment in adults presenting with thoracolumbar spine deformity based on variations in treatment approach over 2 years. Eur Spine J. 2016 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27076049.

Smith JS, Klineberg E, Shaffrey CI, Lafage V, Schwab FJ, Protopsaltis T, Scheer JK, Ailon T, Ramachandran S, Daniels A, Mundis G, Gupta M, Hostin R, Deviren V, Eastlack R, Passias P, Hamilton DK, Hart R, Burton DC, Bess S, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group. Assessment of Surgical Treatment Strategies for Moderate to Severe Cervical Spinal Deformity Reveals Marked Variation in Approaches, Osteotomies and Fusion Levels. World Neurosurg. 2016 Apr 13. pii: S1878-8750(16)30093-6. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2016.04.020. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27086260.

Lenke LG, Fehlings MG, Shaffrey CI, Cheung KM, Carreon L, Dekutoski MB, Schwab FJ, Boachie-Adjei O, Kebaish KM, Ames CP, Qiu Y, Matsuyama Y, Dahl BT, Mehdian H, Pellisé-Urquiza F, Lewis SJ, Berven SH. Neurologic Outcomes of Complex Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Results of the Prospective, Multicenter Scoli-RISK-1 Study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Feb;41(3):204-12. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001338. PubMed PMID: 26866736.

Theologis AA, Miller L, Callahan M, Lau D, Zygourakis C, Scheer JK, Burch S, Pekmezci M, Chou D, Tay B, Mummaneni P, Berven S, Deviren V, Ames CP. The Economic Impact of Revision Surgery for Proximal Junctional Failure after Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: A Cost Analysis of 57 Operations in A 10-Year Experience at a Major Deformity Center. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26909838.

Smith JS, Klineberg E, Lafage V, Shaffrey CI, Schwab F, Lafage R, Hostin R, Mundis GM Jr, Errico TJ, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis TS, Hamilton DK, Scheer JK, Soroceanu A, Kelly MP, Line B, Gupta M, Deviren V, Hart R, Burton DC, Bess S, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group. Prospective multicenter assessment of perioperative and minimum 2-year postoperative complication rates associated with adult spinal deformity surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2016 Feb 26:1-14. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26918574.

Bess S, Protopsaltis TS, Lafage V, Lafage R, Ames CP, Errico T, Smith JS; International Spine Study Group. Clinical and Radiographic Evaluation of Adult Spinal Deformity. Clin Spine Surg. 2016 Feb;29(1):6-16. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000000352. PubMed PMID: 26710188.

Jain A, Lafage V, Kelly MP, Hassanzadeh H, Neuman BJ, Sciubba DM, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP, Scheer JK, Burton D, Gupta MC, Hart R, Hostin RA, Kebaish KM; International Spine Study Group. Validity, Reliability, and Responsiveness of SRS-7 as an Outcomes Assessment Instrument for Operatively Treated Patients with Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Feb 29. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26937607.

Passias PG, Klineberg EO, Jalai CM, Worley N, Poorman GW, Line B, Oh C, Burton DC, Kim HJ, Sciubba DM, Hamilton DK, Ames CP, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Lafage V, Bess S. Hospital Readmission within Two Years Following Adult Thoracolumbar Spinal Deformity Surgery: Prevalence, Predictors, and Effect on Patient-Derived Outcome Measures. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Mar 8. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26967123.

Diebo BG, Lafage R, Ames CP, Bess S, Obeid I, Klineberg E, Cunningham ME, Smith JS, Hostin R, Liu S, Passias PG, Schwab FJ, Lafage V; International Spine Study Group. Ratio of lumbar 3-column osteotomy closure: patient-specific deformity characteristics and level of resection impact correction of truncal versus pelvic compensation. Eur Spine J. 2016 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27002615.

Soroceanu A, Burton DC, Oren JH, Smith JS, Hostin R, Shaffrey CI, Akbarnia BA, Ames CP, Errico TJ, Bess S, Gupta MC, Deviren V, Schwab FJ, Lafage V; International Spine Study Group. Medical Complications after Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: Incidence, Risk factors, and Clinical Impact. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27105460.

Passias PG, Oh C, Jalai CM, Worley N, Lafage R, Scheer JK, Klineberg EO, Hart RA, Kim HJ, Smith JS, Lafage V, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group (ISSG). Predictive Model for Cervical Alignment and Malalignment Following Surgical Correction of Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27105461.