Meet Dr. Tovar-Spinoza

Dr. Tovar-Spinoza and a Laser Ablation Patient


Dr. Tovar-Spinoza is noted for her warmth and rapport with children and their families, and for her collegiality with referring physicians, for all offered procedures.


While she performs her surgeries in Syracuse, NY, patients and families from are welcome from across the U.S. and internationally.


To facilitate communication, Dr. Tovar-Spinoza speaks three languages: English, Spanish and Hebrew.


View her complete Physician profile here.


Support Our Work

You can support Dr. Tovar-Spinoza's work by making a donation to the Pediatric Neuroscience Fund:


Foundation for Upstate

750 E Adams St-326 CAB

Syracuse NY, 13210 USA


Laser Ablation Surgery - Syracuse, NY

Laser Brain Surgery for Brain Tumors and Epilepsy in Syracuse, NY


Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY, offers a pioneering neurosurgery option for children with brain tumors and epilepsy. Upstate is one the few centers in the world to offer this technology.

Pediatric Neurosurgeon Zulma Tovar-Spinoza, MD, uses real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures. Depth and resistant brain tumors are also treated with this technology.

Dr. Tovar-Spinoza and colleague, Yaman Eksioglu, MD, PhD, Director of pediatric neurology, designed a first-ever minimally invasive multi-staged treatment for patients with tuberosclerosis and epilepsy with succesful outcomes in local and international patients. For patients with tuberosclerosis this replaces open surgery, and the technique pioneered at Upstate allows removal of multiple tumors in one surgical session. See Arianna's story.


Video: MRI-Guided Laser Surgery for Children with Brain Tumors and Epilepsy


Dr. Zulma Tovar-Spinoza discusses the new MRI-Guided Laser Surgery for children with brain tumors and epilepsy now available at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY.


Dr. Tovar-Spinoza is a pioneer in this new technique, and Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital is among the first in the country to offer this minimally invasive surgery that is producing encouraging results for patients and families.


See more laser ablation videos


Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital


Surgery is performed in the state-of-the-art surgical suite at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY. Accessing the brain via a 3.2 mm keyhole and an ultra thin 1.3 mm laser applicator, the heating of the lesion allows the disconnection or destruction of the ablated area with exact precision that protects the healthy sorrounding brain.

Patients typically need a single stitch to close the incision site and are discharged from the hospital the next day.


View more about the laser ablation procedure

Published: The use of MRI-guided laser-induced thermal ablation for epilepsy

The recent publication in Child's Nervous System authored by Dr. Tovar-Spinoza details the approach for epilepsy surgery:


Child's Nervous System

"Epilepsy surgery is a constantly evolving field seeking for surgical options to offer patients with drug-resistant epilepsy a better chance for seizure control without causing additional morbidity. Over the past decades, the evolution of laser in neurosurgical patient care has been significant. Recently, integrated laser-induced thermal therapy (LITT) has been integrated to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce magnetic resonance thermal imaging (MRTI). LITT has proven to be an exciting tool that has created new options for treatment of the epileptogenic zone for lesionectomy as well as an advance in disconnection procedures for patients with intractable epilepsy."


Download a copy of this paper (pdf, 505 kb)



Laser Ablation Referrals

To learn if a patient is a suitable candidate for laser-guided
ablation please contact:


Zulma Tovar-Spinoza, MD
Director, Pediatric Neurosurgery Surgical
Director, Pediatric Epilepsy Program

Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital


SUNY Upstate Medical University

604 Jacobsen Hall
750 East Adams Street
Syracuse, NY 13210


Phone: (315)464-4418
Fax: (315)464-4415
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


More Information for Your Visit


Here are a few helpful resources for patients and visitors traveling to Upstate Hospital.

Connect with Upstate Laser Ablation on Facebook