Peter Warnke, MD

UChicago Faculty Physicians

Peter Warnke, MD

Professor of Neurological Surgery
Professor of Neurology Director, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi. I'm Peter Warnke. I'm a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Chicago and director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. I have special interest in brain tumors, movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and epilepsy surgery, and being also a pediatric neurosurgeon, I do perform these procedures in adults and children.

I actually always was attracted to biology and sciences, particularly biophysics. And in particular, the neurosciences are applied biophysics. And I always thought this would be a wonderful extension to use this and help patients, particularly with neurological and central nervous system disorders.

I've been in multiple institutions before, both in Europe and the United States. And last one was Harvard. The University of Chicago is where I started out coming to the US in the late '80s because it has a unique flavor to it. Besides the classic tradition of freedom of expression, it is always and has always been a place where you could pursue unconventional ideas and that made it very attractive here.

I perform a lot of what's called stereotactic and functional procedures, implantation of deep electrodes into the brain to modulate brain function. I perform a lot of deep-seated brain tumor surgery, also with the help of intraoperative imaging, physiology, and actually was also called functional imaging, so where we actually look at brain function, plan the surgery around this. And I'm doing a lot of epilepsy surgery, which again involves not treating something on the image, involves the physiology, basically the epileptic area that we identify with electrodes before we proceed with surgery.

We've developed two things here. That one thing is minimally invasive epilepsy surgery. We have started with interstitial stereotactic laser procedures. Here now have, by far, the largest experience in the city of Chicago.

And we are now developing this together with more robotic approaches. The whole objective is to minimize the procedure whilst maximizing the efficacy. And the secondary objective always is to minimize the side effects of any procedure.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Peter Warnke, MD, has performed more than 6,000 stereotactic surgeries and more than 3,000 brain tumor surgeries. Dr. Warnke provides neurosurgical care for the treatment of:

He routinely performs neurosurgical procedures with proven expertise, including:

In 2021, Dr. Warnke became the first neurosurgeon in Illinois — and only second worldwide —to perform laser hemispherectomy for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy in a child. This highly innovative surgical technique carries significantly lower risk of complications compared to the traditional open hemispherectomy procedure.

Dr. Warnke is fellowship-trained in brain tumor surgery (neurooncology), movement and epilepsy surgery, and pediatric surgery. He has treated one of the largest series of low grade gliomas in adults and children (more than 1,000) and intrinsic other brain tumors.

Dr. Warnke directs the MRI-Guided Laser Ablation Program for epilepsy and tumors, and is actively researching biological treatments for brain tumors (Lancet Oncology 2013).

In addition, Dr. Warnke has a large deep brain stimulation practice for Parkinson’s, essential tremor and dystonia, and was the first neurosurgeon in Chicago to use directional deep brain stimulation.

Dr. Warnke has a large epilepsy surgery practice and performs open resections, laser ablations and neurostimulation for epilepsy. He directs the SLATE trial in epilepsy surgery, investigating laser ablation as a new minimally invasive alternative to open surgery.

He has special expertise in stereotactic radiosurgery, including interstitial radiosurgery and stereotactically guided endoscopy. Dr. Warnke was one of the first neurosurgeons to use interstitial stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of gelastic epilepsy and hypothalamic hamartomas. He also provides care for patients with pain syndromes, including trigeminal neuralgia and neuropathic pain.

He is also researching the development of biological and minimally invasive treatments for epilepsy, movement disorders and brain tumors. Dr. Warnke is the associate editor of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, which has the highest impact factor among neurosurgical journals. He also sits on the steering committees of several clinical trials, and has received ongoing extramural research funding for 20 years.


Memberships & Medical Societies

  • American Epilepsy Society
  • European Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
  • World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery
  • International Stereotactic Radiosurgery Society
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Practicing Since

  • 1991

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Italian

Medical Education

  • University of Freiburg

Internship

  • Nordstadt Hospital

Residency

  • Saarland University Hospital; University of Freiburg Hospital

Fellowship

  • Evanston Hospital

News & Research

View Published Papers
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Movement Disorders, Parkinson's, Deep Brain Stimulation: Expert Q&A

Our experts at UChicago Medicine offer deep brain stimulation to treat patients who have movement disorders. DBS involves placing small electrodes into the brain. Dr. Tao Xie and neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Warnke join us to discuss the diagnosis and management of Parkinson's disease and DBS as a treatment option.

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