Aaron Clark MD, PhD

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Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery

Member, UCSF Spine Center









Dr. Aaron Clark joined the Department of Neurological Surgery in 2015. The main focus of his practice is to provide minimally invasive outpatient procedures for lumbar/cervical herniated discs and lumbar/cervical stenosis at UCSF’s Mt. Zion location. Minimally invasive spine procedures are associated with shorter recovery and less postoperative pain than standard surgeries, and almost all patients can return home the same day. Dr. Clark also specializes in minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery, adult spinal deformity surgery, and spinal oncology.

Dr. Clark earned his medical and postdoctoral degrees from the Medical College of Virginia. He is a graduate of UCSF’s neurological surgery residency program, where he developed his interest in spine surgery and began publishing research on spinal oncology, spine biomechanics, spinal deformity, and intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring during spine surgery. In 2014 he completed a fellowship in minimally invasive spine surgery at the Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute in Memphis, Tennessee under the mentorship of Kevin Foley, MD, a pioneer in minimally invasive spine surgery.

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Selected Professional Membership and Appointments

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
California Association of Neurological Surgeons

Selected Honors and Awards

2013: Harold Rosegay Young Investigator Award, San Francisco Neurological Society
2012: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Cancer Institute
2011: 1st place E-poster, American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting

Selected Recent Publications

Safaee MM, Zarkowsky D, Eichler CM, Pekmezci M, Clark AJ. Management of aortic injury during minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion. Eur Spine J. 2018 May 7. doi: 10.1007/s00586-018-5620-2. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 29736802.

Safaee MM, Clark AJ, Burkhardt JK, Winkler EA, Lawton MT. Timing, severity of deficits, and clinical improvement after surgery for spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas. J Neurosurg Spine. 2018 Apr 20:1-7. doi: 10.3171/2017.11.SPINE17988. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29676670.

Dumont RA, Keen NN, Bloomer CW, Schwartz BS, Talbott J, Clark AJ, Wilson DM, Chin CT. Clinical Utility of Diffusion-Weighted Imaging in Spinal Infections. Clin Neuroradiol. 2018 Mar 26. doi: 10.1007/s00062-018-0681-5. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29582111.

Safaee MM, Ames CP, Deviren V, Clark AJ. Minimally Invasive Lateral Retroperitoneal Approach for Resection of Extraforaminal Lumbar Plexus Schwannomas: Operative Techniques and Literature Review. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2018 Jan 17. doi: 10.1093/ons/opx304. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29351647.

Grabel ZJ, Hart RA, Clark AJ, Park SH, Shaffrey CI, Scheer JK, Smith JS, Kelly MP, DePasse JM, Gupta MC, Ames CP, Daniels AH. Adult Spinal Deformity Knowledge in Orthopedic Spine Surgeons: Impact of Fellowship Training, Experience, and Practice Characteristics. Spine Deform. 2018 Jan;6(1):60-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jspd.2017.06.003. PubMed PMID: 29287819.

Safaee MM, Oh T, Pekmezci M, Clark AJ. Radiation exposure with hybrid image-guidance-based minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. J Clin Neurosci. 2018 Feb;48:122-127. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2017.09.026. Epub 2017 Nov 11. PubMed PMID: 29137917.

Clark AJ, Safaee MM, Khan NR, Brown MT, Foley KT. Tubular microdiscectomy: techniques, complication avoidance, and review of the literature. Neurosurg Focus. 2017 Aug;43(2):E7. doi: 10.3171/2017.5.FOCUS17202. Review. PubMed PMID: 28760036.

Clark AJ, Wang DD, Lawton MT. Spinal cavernous malformations. Handb Clin Neurol. 2017;143:303-308. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63640-9.00030-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 28552154.

Ames CP, Clark AJ, Kanter AS, Arnold PM, Fehlings MG, Mroz TE, Riew KD. Hypoglossal Nerve Palsy After Cervical Spine Surgery. Global Spine J. 2017 Apr;7(1 Suppl):37S-39S. doi: 10.1177/2192568216687307. Epub 2017 Apr 1. PubMed PMID: 28451489; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5400183.

Burkhardt JK, Safaee MM, Clark AJ, Lawton MT. Sacral epidural arteriovenous fistulas: imitators of spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas with different pathologic anatomy: report of three cases and review of the literature. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2017 Jun;159(6):1087-1092. doi: 10.1007/s00701-017-3170-8. Epub 2017 Apr 12. Review. PubMed PMID: 28405771.

Clark AJ, Safaee M, Chou D, Weinstein PR, Molinaro AM, Clark JP 3rd, Mummaneni PV. Comparative Sensitivity of Intraoperative Motor Evoked Potential Monitoring in Predicting Postoperative Neurologic Deficits: Nondegenerative versus Degenerative Myelopathy. Global Spine J. 2016 Aug;6(5):452-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1565258. Epub 2015 Oct 25. PubMed PMID: 27433429; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4947397.

Lau D, Funao H, Clark AJ, Nicholls F, Smith J, Bess S, Shaffrey C, Schwab FJ, Lafage V, Deviren V, Hart R, Kebaish KM, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group. The Clinical Correlation of the Hart-ISSG Proximal Junctional Kyphosis Severity Scale With Health-Related Quality-of-life Outcomes and Need for Revision Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Feb;41(3):213-23. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001326. PubMed PMID: 26641842.

Khan NR, Clark AJ, Lee SL, Venable GT, Rossi NB, Foley KT. Surgical Outcomes for Minimally Invasive vs Open Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Neurosurgery. 2015 Dec;77(6):847-74; discussion 874. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000000913. Review. PubMed PMID: 26214320.

Scheer JK, Smith JS, Clark AJ, Lafage V, Kim HJ, Rolston JD, Eastlack R, Hart RA, Protopsaltis TS, Kelly MP, Kebaish K, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Hostin R, Shaffrey CI, Schwab F, Ames CP; International Spine Study Group. Comprehensive study of back and leg pain improvements after adult spinal deformity surgery: analysis of 421 patients with 2-year follow-up and of the impact of the surgery on treatment satisfaction. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 May;22(5):540-53. doi: 10.3171/2014.10.SPINE14475. Epub 2015 Feb 20. PubMed PMID: 25700238.

Lau D, Clark AJ, Scheer JK, Daubs MD, Coe JD, Paonessa KJ, LaGrone MO, Kasten MD, Amaral RA, Trobisch PD, Lee JH, Fabris-Monterumici D, Anand N, Cree AK, Hart RA, Hey LA, Ames CP; SRS Adult Spinal Deformity Committee. Proximal junctional kyphosis and failure after spinal deformity surgery: a systematic review of the literature as a background to classification development. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014 Dec 1;39(25):2093-102. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000627. Review. PubMed PMID: 25271516.