Adam S. Kanter, MD

Associate Professor
Chief, UPMC Presbyterian Spine Service
Director, Minimally Invasive Spine Program
Co-Director, Spine Fellowship Program

Adam Kanter




Adam S. Kanter, MD, joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery in January of 2008 as director of the department’s minimally invasive spine program.

Dr. Kanter performed his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, graduating with Cum Laude honors. He obtained his master’s degree from Boston University and his medical degree from the University of Vermont in 2001. Dr. Kanter then completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Virginia in 2007. He completed subspecialty fellowship training in minimally invasive spine surgery at the University of California in San Francisco and Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Dr. Kanter is board certified in neurological surgery and was promoted to associate professor in 2013. He was named chief of spine services in 2014 and continues to push the surgical envelope in minimally invasive spine procedures utilizing many of the innovative portals that he has helped to develop. 

Dr. Kanter is principal investigator in several research studies evaluating the use of stem cell derived biologics to induce spinal fusion. His research focuses on patient derived clinical outcome measures, specifically appraising the utility of minimally invasive and lateral access surgical corridors. 

 Dr. Kanter has published numerous papers in refereed journals and authored several book chapters. He provides editorial service to several peer reviewed journals and is a key member of several major neurosurgical societies. He resided as chairman of the 2016 Spine Summit’s Scientific Program, recording the highest attendance in the history of the section’s conference. Dr. Kanter has also received numerous accolades for his clinical expertise, including top doctor, most compassionate doctor, and patient’s choice awards.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Minimally invasive spine surgery; lateral access spine surgery; artificial disc technology; spinal tumors; experimental therapies for spinal fusion..

Board Certifications

American Board of Neurological Surgery

Hospital Privileges

UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
UMPC Passavant
UPMC Presbyterian
UPMC St. Margaret
UPMC Shadyside

Professional Organization Membership

Allegheny County Medical Society
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine & Peripheral Nerves
AANS/CNS Section on Neurotrauma & Critical Care
AANS/CNS Section on Tumors
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
North American Spine Society
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Society of Lateral Access Surgeons (SOLAS)
Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeons (SMISS)
World Spinal Column Society

Education & Training

BS, Psychology, University of Massachusetts, 1993
MS, Medical Sciences, Boston University, 1997
MD, University of Vermont, 2001
Residency, Neurosurgery, University of Virginia, 2007
Fellowship, Spine Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 2007

Honors & Awards

Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors, Pittsburgh Magazine, 2012-19
Patients’ Choice Award, UPMC, October 2012-18 
Top 10 Doctor, Vitals Neurosurgical Specialists, 2012-18
Most Compassionate Doctor Award, UPMC, December 2012, 2017-18
Early Achievement Award, University of Vermont School of Medicine, 2016

Selected Publications

Ahmadian A, Bach K, Bolinger B, Malham GM, Okonkwo DK, Kanter AS, Uribe JS. Stand-alone minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion: multicenter clinical outcomes. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 22(4):740-746, 2015. 

Gandhoke GS, Tempel ZJ, Bonfield CM, Madhok R, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Technical nuances of the minimally invasive extreme lateral approach to treat thoracolumbar burst fractures. European Spine Journal 24 Suppl 3:353-60, 2015

Tempel ZJ, Gandhoke GS, Bolinger BD, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Vertebral body fracture following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF): report of two events out of 712 levels. European Spine Journal 24(3):409-413, 2015.

Tempel ZJ, Gandhoke GS, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Impaired bone mineral density as a predictor of graft subsidence following minimally invasive transpsoas lateral lumbar interbody fusion. European Spine Journal 24(3):414-419, 2015.

Can triggered electromyography monitoring throughout retraction predict postoperative symptomatic neuropraxia after XLIF? Results from a prospective multicenter trial. Uribe JS, Isaacs RE, Youssef JA, Khajavi K, Balzer JR, Kanter AS, Küelling FA, Peterson MD, SOLAS Degenerative Study Group. European Spine Journal 24(3):378-385, 2015.

Ahmadian A, Bach K, Bolinger B, Malham GM, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS, Uribe JS. Stand-alone minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion: Multicenter clinical outcomes. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 22(4):740-6, 2015.

Park P, Wang MY, Lafage V, Nguyen S, Ziewacz J, Okonkwo DO, Uribe JS, Eastlack RK, Anand N, Haque R, Fessler RG, Kanter AS, Deviren V, La Marca F, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Mundis GM Jr, Mummaneni P, ISSG. Comparison of two minimally invasive surgery strategies to treat adult spinal deformity. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 22(4):374-80, 2015.

Bonfield CM, Shin SS, Kanter AS. Helmets, head injury and concussion in sport. Physcian Sports Medicine 27:1-11, 2015.

Tempel ZJ, Gandhoke GS, Bonfield CM, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. Radiographic and clinical outcomes following combined lateral lumbar interbody fusion and posterior segmental stabilization in patients with adult degenerative scoliosis. Neurosurgical Focus 36(5):E11, 2014.

2. Gandhoke GS, Kasliwal MK, Smith JS, Nieto J, Ibrahimi D, Park P, Lamarca F, Shaffrey C, Okonkwo DO, Kanter AS. A Multi-Center Evaluation of Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes Following High-Grade Spondylolisthesis Reduction and Fusion. Journal of Spinal Disorders Tech [Epub ahead of print], 2014.

A complete list of Dr. Kanter's publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine's publication database. 

Media Appearances

Less invasive spinal surgery pioneered by UPMC neurosurgeon helps patients recover quicker
July 23, 2012
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

XLIF Procedure for Scoliosis Surgery
July 9, 2012
Discovery Channel

Pounded spinal cord can mimic more serious injury
October 4, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPMC OnTopic Videos

Clinical Advantages of Lateral Access Surgery
Dr. Kanter explains how lateral access surgery is a viable and beneficial option that preserves tissue integral to the rehabilitation and recovery of patients with degenerative spine conditions.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Scoliosis
Dr. Kanter explains how scoliosis can be treated minimally invasively.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Stenosis
Dr. Kanter explains how stenosis can be treated minimally invasively.

Minimally Invasive Spine Fusion Surgery
Dr. Kanter discusses the benefits of minimally invasive spine fusion surgery.