Neurosurgeon and Director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Tumor Surgery Program

Conditions Treated:

Ilya Laufer

About Me

I am a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, with expertise in the treatment of primary and metastatic spinal tumors, nerve tumors, and the use of neuromodulation as a therapy for treating cancer pain. 

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As a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Spine Tumor Center, my goal is to provide comprehensive care for all patients with spinal disorders. I specialize in spinal cord and nerve decompression, the surgical removal of spine tumors, and complex spinal reconstruction techniques. I also have extensive training in treating the full range of degenerative spinal disorders and perform more than 150 spine tumor operations each year.

Our team develops a treatment plan for each person designed to control the tumor and relieve symptoms. These treatments include:

  • a combination of radiation treatments before and after surgery
  • arterial embolization, which blocks blood vessels to decrease blood loss
  • cement injection, which stabilizes the bones
  • intra-arterial chemotherapy
  • tumor excision (removal) and spinal reconstruction
  • intraoperative irradiation, which delivers concentrated radiation to portions of the surgical site

My goal is to use cutting-edge surgical techniques, including image-guidance, robotics, and minimally invasive surgery, to treat spinal tumors and degenerative disorders. Image guidance and robotics allow for increased precision during operations that require spinal reconstruction and stabilization, thereby minimizing the risk of neurologic injury and complications. Minimally invasive surgery decreases damage to tissues, which lessens surgical risk and postoperative pain and speeds recovery.

As a member of the Neuromodulation Center for Cancer Pain, I work with experts in anesthesiology and rehabilitation medicine to alleviate pain caused by cancer and its treatments. We use intrathecal drug delivery (which allows us to administer drugs directly into the spinal canal) and nerve and spinal cord stimulation to treat and cure cancer pain.

I am also a member of the Neurofibromatosis Center and treat patients with peripheral nerve tumors. While most of these tumors require conventional open surgeries, sometimes we are able to use robot-assisted techniques.

My research interests include new technologies for treating spinal and peripheral nerve tumors and cancer pain. I also design and lead studies and clinical trials to assess quality of life and determine the best ways to treat patients with spinal tumors. My goal is for patients to leave my office feeling hopeful, safe, and calm, with a clear action plan and confidence that they placed their trust in the right team.

  • Clinical Expertise: Primary and Metastatic Spinal Tumors; Complex Reconstruction and Stabilization of the Spine; Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery; Degenerative Spinal Disorders
  • Awards and Honors: Super Doctors New York Rising Stars 2015 and 2016; 38 spine surgeons to know under 40
  • Languages Spoken: English; Russian
  • Education: MD, Stony Brook University Medical School; MS, Biostatistics/Clinical Research Methods, Mailman Scool of Public Health, Columbia University
  • Residencies: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Johns Hopkins Hospital (Spine Oncology and Complex Reconstruction)

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Visit PubMed for a full listing of Ilya Laufer’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.


Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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