Lee Tan MD

Lee Tan, MD

Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery

Member, UCSF Spine Center









Dr. Lee Tan specializes in both minimally invasive and traditional open surgical techniques for the treatment of various spinal disorders. His clinical focus includes spinal deformities (scoliosis, kyphosis, “flat-back” syndrome, “chin-on-chest” deformity), cervical spine pathologies (cervical disc herniation, cervical stenosis, OPLL), and degenerative lumbar spine pathologies (disc herniation, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis). He also has expertise in robotic spine surgery, as well as motion-preservation techniques such as cervical artificial disc replacement and cervical laminoplasty, which can lead to superior clinical outcome in well-selected patients. Another unique aspect of Dr. Tan’s training is that he received both neurosurgical and orthopedic spine surgery training, which enables him to assess spinal pathologies from an interdisciplinary perspective to select the most appropriate treatment tailored to each individual patient. Dr. Tan’s research interests include spinal deformity outcome, motion preservation techniques, robotic spine surgery, minimally invasive techniques, and spinal cord injury.

Education, Training, and Previous Positions

2006: BS, Purdue University
2010: MD, Indiana University
2010-2016: Neurosurgery Residency, Rush University Medical Center
2016-2017: Adult and Pediatric Comprehensive Spine Fellowship, Columbia University Medical Center

Selected Honors and Awards

Cinergy Electrical & Computer Engineering Scholarship
Charles and Anna Holder Scholarship
A.F. Welch Scholarship
Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honors Society
Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering Honor Society
Golden Key National Honors Society
Neurosurgery Honor Program
Kelvin A. Von Roenn Resident Teaching Award
Rush Surgical Society Annual Resident Research Award
Research Mentor Award for Stevenson High School SPARK Program

Selected Professional Memberships

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
North American Spine Society

Selected Recent Publications

Tan L, Angevine PD. Letter to the Editor. Utility of intravenous tranexamic acid in single-level posterior lumbar interbody fusions. J Neurosurg Spine. 2017 Aug 25; 1-2. 


Tan L, Riew KD, Traynelis VC. Cervical Spine Deformity-Part 1: Biomechanics, Radiographic Parameters, and Classification. Neurosurgery. 2017 Aug 01; 81(2):197-203. PMID: 28838143.



 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Gerard CS, Traynelis VC, Fontes RBV. Surgical considerations in posterior C1-2 instrumentation in the presence of vertebral artery anomalies: case illustration and review of literature. Br J Neurosurg. 2017 Jun 29; 1-3.


 Tan L, Riew KD. Anterior cervical osteotomy: operative technique. Eur Spine J. 2017 Jun 07.


 Kerolus MG, Tan L, Lopes DK. Giant vein of Galen malformation in an adult. Radiol Case Rep. 2017 Sep; 12(3):585-589.


 Nazari P, Tan L, Wewel JT, Moftakhar R, Kasliwal MK. Massive epistaxis resulting from radiation-induced internal carotid artery pseudoaneurysm. Neurol India. 2017 Mar-Apr; 65(2):380-382.


 Kerolus M, Tan L, Chen M. Treatment of a giant vertebral artery pseudoaneurysm secondary to gunshot wound to the neck using pipeline embolization device. Br J Neurosurg. 2016 Dec 07; 1-2.


 Byrne N, Plonsker JH, Tan L, Byrne RW, Munoz LF. Orbital Cellulitis with Pansinusitis and Subdural Empyema. J Emerg Med. 2017 Feb; 52(2):e41-e43.

Nazari P, Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Traynelis VC. Aortic Dissection: An Unusual Extraspinal Cause of Acute Paraplegia in the Emergency Department. J Emerg Med. 2017 Jan; 52(1):e19-e21.

Fukuda K, Majumdar M, Masoud H, Nguyen T, Honarmand A, Shaibani A, Ansari S, Tan L, Chen M. Multicenter assessment of morbidity associated with cerebral arteriovenous malformation hemorrhages. J Neurointerv Surg. 2017 Jul; 9(7):664-668.


 Plonsker J, Tan L, Munoz LF. Post-operative intracranial hemorrhage related to using t-PA for declotting an occluded hemodialysis catheter: A cautionary tale. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Oct; 32:145-7.


 Kasliwal MK, Tan L, Wewel JT, Traynelis VC. Exuberant heterotopic ossification following anterior cervical fusion. Neurol India. 2016 May-Jun; 64(3):571-2.



 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Traynelis VC. Response to Letter to the Editor on the article "Comparison of CT and MRI findings for cervical spine clearance in obtunded patients without high impact trauma" (Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery 120 (2014), 23-26). Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2016 06; 145:107-8.


 Wewel JT, Nunna RS, Tan L, Kasliwal MK, O'Toole JE. Novel reconstruction of the anterior craniocervical junction using an expandable cage with integrated fixation after total C2 spondylectomy for chordoma. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Aug; 30:157-160.


 Johnson AK, Tan L, Lopes DK, Moftakhar R. Progressive Deconstruction of a Distal Posterior Cerebral Artery Aneurysm Using Competitive Flow Diversion. Neurointervention. 2016 Mar; 11(1):46-9.


 Tan L, Harbhajanka A, Kasliwal MK, Nag S, Munoz LF. Giant trichilemmal cyst of the scalp. Neurol India. 2016 Mar-Apr; 64(2):357-8.


 Porto GB, Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Traynelis VC. Progressive Brown-Séquard syndrome: A rare manifestation of cervical disc herniation. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Jul; 29:196-8.


 Li L, Tan L, Wewel JT, Kasliwal MK, O'Toole JE. Spinal aneurysmal bone cyst presenting as acute paraparesis during pregnancy. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Jun; 28:167-9.


 Tan L, Lopes DK, Munoz LF, Shah Y, Bhabad S, Jhaveri M, Moftakhar R. Minimally invasive evacuation of intraventricular hemorrhage with the Apollo vibration/suction device. J Clin Neurosci. 2016 May; 27:53-8.

Tan L, Syed S, Arvanitis LD, Munoz LF. Calcifying pseudoneoplasm of the superior medullary velum: An unusual location for a rare lesion. Neurol India. 2016 Jan-Feb; 64(1):185-6.


 Kasliwal MK, Moore KA, Tan L, Harbhajanka A, Gattuso P, O'Toole JE. Dialysis-related amyloidosis: An unusual etiology for pathological odontoid fracture. Neurol India. 2015 Nov-Dec; 63(6):965-7.


 Tan L, Chen M, Muñoz LF. Letter to the Editor: Utility of dual-energy CT in differentiating contrast extravasation from intracranial hematoma. J Neurosurg. 2016 Jan; 124(1):279-80.


 Tan L, Byrne RW. Anterior Temporal Sulcus: A Reliable Intraoperative Landmark for Accurately Delineating the Superior Limit of Amygdala Resection during Anterior Temporal Lobectomy. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2015; 93(5):360-5.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Munoz LF. Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Failure Presenting as Isolated Unilateral Abducens Nerve Palsy. J Emerg Med. 2016 Jan; 50(1):e31-2.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Wewel J, Harbhajanka A, Arvanitis L, Moftakhar R. Neurosarcoidosis mimicking bilateral posterior fossa tentorial meningiomas. J Neurooncol. 2015 Nov; 125(2):435-6.


 Kasliwal MK, An HS, Byrne RW. Obstructive Hydrocephalus Due to Intraventricular Hemorrhage Following Incidental Durotomy during Lumbar Spine Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jul 22.


 Tan L, Lopes DK. Surgical management of malignant cerebral edema secondary to immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome from natalizumab-associated progressive multifocal encephalopathy. J Clin Neurosci. 2015 Oct; 22(10):1669-71.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, O'Toole JE. Minimally invasive combined direct lateral and posterior transpedicular approach for 360° resection of a lumbar aneurysmal bone cyst with spinal stabilization. Spine J. 2015 Oct 01; 15(10):e37-8.


 Johnson AK, Munich SA, Tan L, Heiferman DM, Keigher KM, Lopes DK. Complication analysis in nitinol stent-assisted embolization of 486 intracranial aneurysms. J Neurosurg. 2015 Aug; 123(2):453-9.


 Cardoso AC, Fontes RB, Tan L, Rhoton AL, Roh SW, Fessler RG. Biomechanical effects of the transcondylar approach on the craniovertebral junction. Clin Anat. 2015 Jul; 28(5):683-9.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Harbhajanka A, Kellogg RG, Arvanitis LD, Munoz LF. Hyperdense suprasellar mass: An unusual radiological presentation of intracranial dermoid cyst. J Clin Neurosci. 2015 Jul; 22(7):1208-10.

Tan L, Gerard CS, Keigher KM, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. Ventriculoperitoneal shunt in a patient with ruptured blister aneurysm treated with pipeline embolization device. J Cerebrovasc Endovasc Neurosurg. 2015 Mar; 17(1):54-8.


 Tan L, Deutsch H. Severe spinal cord compression due to extramedullary hematopoiesis. Br J Neurosurg. 2015; 29(5):737-8.


 Tan L, Byrne RW. Bilateral humeral fractures mimicking Todd's paralysis. Br J Neurosurg. 2015; 29(5):733.


 Tan L, Munoz LF. Giant Pontine Capillary Telangiectasia. Br J Neurosurg. 2015; 29(4):574-5.


 Tan L, Straus DC, Traynelis VC. Cervical interfacet spacers and maintenance of cervical lordosis. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 May; 22(5):466-9.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Deutsch H. Complications associated with epidural steroid injection. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 May; 22(5):558-9.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Arvanitis LD, Byrne RW. Enlarging scalp mass. J Neurooncol. 2015 Apr; 122(2):419-20.


 Majumdar M, Tan L, Chen M. Critical assessment of the morbidity associated with ruptured cerebral arteriovenous malformations. J Neurointerv Surg. 2016 Feb; 8(2):163-7.


 Tan L, Deutsch H. Thermal injury of thoracic spinal cord after percutaneous cryoablation of spinal tumor--When needles are more dangerous than the knife. Br J Neurosurg. 2015 Jun; 29(3):443.

Tan L, Ahuja SK, Deutsch H. The "screwed aorta" after spinal deformity surgery. Br J Neurosurg. 2015 Apr; 29(2):290.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Chen M. Vanishing aneurysm during cerebral angiography complicating endovascular coiling: an unusual manifestation of intraoperative vasospasm. Neurol India. 2014 Nov-Dec; 62(6):714-5.


 Corley JA, Kasliwal MK, Tan L, Lopes DK. Delayed Vascular Claudication Following Diagnostic Cerebral Angiography: A Rare Complication of the AngioSeal Arteriotomy Closure Device. J Cerebrovasc Endovasc Neurosurg. 2014 Sep; 16(3):275-80.


 Tan L, Boco T, Johnson AK, Rivas FF, Ahmed S, Byrd SE, Byrne RW. Magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of typical and atypical/anaplastic meningiomas - Case series and literature review. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Sep 15; 1-5.

Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Deutsch H. Rapidly progressive quadriparesis secondary to cervical epidural hematoma - A rare complication of epidural injection. Br J Neurosurg. 2015 Apr; 29(2):280.

Munich SA, Tan L, Keigher KM, Chen M, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. The Pipeline Embolization Device for the treatment of posterior circulation fusiform aneurysms: lessons learned at a single institution. J Neurosurg. 2014 Nov; 121(5):1077-84.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Mhanna N, Fontes RB, Traynelis VC. Surgical resection of subependymoma of the cervical spinal cord. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep; 37 Suppl 2:Video 3.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Wewel J, Fontes RB, O'Toole JE. Minimally invasive surgery for synchronous, same-level lumbar intradural-extramedullary neoplasm and acute disc herniation. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Sep; 37 Suppl 2:Video 16.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Fontes RB, Fessler RG. Local cooling for traumatic spinal cord injury. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Nov; 21(5):845-7.

Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Muth CC, Stefoski D, Traynelis VC. Is cervical decompression beneficial in patients with coexistent cervical stenosis and multiple sclerosis? J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Dec; 21(12):2189-93.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Moftakhar R, Munoz LF. Ventriculoperitoneal shunt with a rare twist: small-bowel ischemia and necrosis secondary to knotting of peritoneal catheter. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014 Sep; 14(3):234-7.

Tan L, Johnson AK, Keigher KM, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. Endovascular transarterial embolization of cerebral arteriovenous malformation with ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Jul; 37(1 Suppl):1.


 Tan L, Johnson AK, Keigher KM, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. Y-stent-assisted coil embolization of cerebral aneurysms. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Jul; 37(1 Suppl):1.

Tan L, Keigher KM, Lopes DK. Symptomatic Cerebral Air Embolism During Stent-assisted Coiling of an Unruptured Middle Cerebral Artery Aneurysm: Intraoperative Diagnosis and Management of a Rare Complication. J Cerebrovasc Endovasc Neurosurg. 2014 Jun; 16(2):93-7.


 Tan L, Lopes DK, Fontes RB. Ultrasound-guided posterolateral approach for midline calcified thoracic disc herniation. J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2014 Jun; 55(6):383-6.

Tan L, Musacchio MJ, Mitchell BA, Kapadia SK, Patel NH, Byrne RW. Simultaneously occurring meningioma and contralateral glioblastoma multiforme. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Dec; 28(6):815-6.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Fessler RG. Minimally invasive versus open laminotomy. Spine J. 2014 Jun 01; 14(6):1081-2.


 Tan L, Uy BR, Munoz LF. Recurrent juvenile xanthogranuloma manifesting as diffuse miliary brain lesions. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Dec; 28(6):817-8.


 Tan L, Takagi I, Straus D, O'Toole JE. Management of intended durotomy in minimally invasive intradural spine surgery: clinical article. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Aug; 21(2):279-85.

Tan L, Sandler V, Todorova-Koteva K, Levine L, Lopes DK, Moftakhar R. Recovery of pituitary function following treatment of an unruptured giant cavernous carotid aneurysm using Surpass flow-diverting stents. J Neurointerv Surg. 2015 Jun; 7(6):e20.


 Tan L, Sandler V, Todorova-Koteva K, Levine L, Lopes DK, Moftakhar R. Recovery of pituitary function following treatment of an unruptured giant cavernous carotid aneurysm using Surpass flow-diverting stents. BMJ Case Rep. 2014 May 05; 2014.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, O'Toole JE. Compressive radiculopathy due to delayed pseudomeningocele secondary to occult dural tear following tubular lumbar microdiscectomy. Neurol India. 2014 May-Jun; 62(3):325-7.

Kasliwal MK, Tan L, O'Toole JE. Intradural tumor recurrence after resection of extradural metastasis: a rare but potential complication of intraoperative durotomy. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Jun; 20(6):734-9.

Tan L, O'Toole JE. Tubular retractor selection in minimally invasive spinal tumor resection. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 May; 20(5):596-7; author reply 597-8.

Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Johnson AK, Lopes DK. The "Spot Sign" secondary to a ruptured lenticulostriate artery aneurysm. Clin Imaging. 2014 Jul-Aug; 38(4):508-509.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Traynelis VC. Comparison of CT and MRI findings for cervical spine clearance in obtunded patients without high impact trauma. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2014 May; 120:23-6.


 Tan L, Keigher KM, Munich SA, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. Thromboembolic complications with Pipeline Embolization Device placement: impact of procedure time, number of stents and pre-procedure P2Y12 reaction unit (PRU) value. J Neurointerv Surg. 2015 Mar; 7(3):217-21.


 Uy BR, Tan L, Byrne RW. Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme presents as a mirror image in the contralateral temporal lobe. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Oct; 28(5):697-8.

Straus D, Tan L, Takagi I, O'Toole JE. Disseminated spinal myxopapillary ependymoma in an adult at initial presentation: a case report and review of the literature. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Oct; 28(5):691-3.


 Tan L, Gerard CS, Ahuja SK, Moftakhar R. Retrosigmoid approach for resection of cerebellopontine angle meningioma and decompression of the trigeminal nerve. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Jan; 36(1 Suppl):1.


 Tan L, Fontes RB, Byrne RW. Retrosigmoid approach for resection of an extraventricular choroid plexus papilloma in the cerebellopontine angle. Neurosurg Focus. 2014 Jan; 36(1 Suppl):1.


 Tan L, Gerard CS, Anderson PA, Traynelis VC. Effect of machined interfacet allograft spacers on cervical foraminal height and area. J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Feb; 20(2):178-82.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Harbhajanka A, Miller IJ, Deutsch H. Malignant degeneration of multilevel monostotic Paget's disease involving the thoracic spine: an unusual presentation. J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jul; 21(7):1254-6.


 Kasliwal MK, Tan L, Traynelis VC. Infection with spinal instrumentation: Review of pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and management. Surg Neurol Int. 2013; 4(Suppl 5):S392-403.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Nag S, O'Toole JE, Traynelis VC. Rapidly progressive quadriparesis heralding disseminated coccidioidomycosis in an immunocompetent patient. J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jun; 21(6):1049-51.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Traynelis VC. Surgical seroma. J Neurosurg Spine. 2013 Dec; 19(6):793-4.


 Tan L, Takagi I, Deutsch H. Minimally invasive transpedicular approach for evacuation of epidural abscess and debridement of disc space in a patient with discitis in the thoracic spine. Neurosurg Focus. 2013 Jul; 35(2 Suppl):Video 6.


 Fontes RB, Tan L, O'Toole JE. Minimally invasive treatment of spinal dural arteriovenous fistula with the use of intraoperative indocyanine green angiography. Neurosurg Focus. 2013 Jul; 35(2 Suppl):Video 5.


 Tan L, Kasliwal MK, Nag S, O'Toole JE. A rare intramedullary spinal cord metastasis from uterine leiomyosarcoma. J Clin Neurosci. 2013 Sep; 20(9):1309-12.


 Tan L, Moftakhar R, Lopes DK. Treatment of a ruptured vertebrobasilar fusiform aneurysm using pipeline embolization device. J Cerebrovasc Endovasc Neurosurg. 2013 Mar; 15(1):30-3.


 Lopes DK, Johnson AK, Tan L. Venous sinus manometry and intervention using the PrimeWire Prestige pressure guidewire: technique and initial experience. J Neurointerv Surg. 2013 Sep 01; 5(5):458-60.

Tan L, Bradbury J, Bonnin J, Horn EM. Minimally invasive resection of an extrapelvic sciatic schwannoma. J Clin Neurosci. 2010 Oct; 17(10):1314-6.