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P. David Adelson, MD

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Medical Staff Section Chief, PCMG Division Chief

Dr Adelson

Areas of Expertise

  • Brachial Plexus Inj.
  • Brain Tumors
  • Chiari Malformation
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurocritical Care
  • Ped. Neurosurgery
  • Traumatic Brain Inj.
  • Vasc. Malformation


Main Hospital
1919 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, Arizona 85016


Education & Training

Board Certification

Neurological Surgery; Pediatric Neurosurgery; Adolescent Medicine

Medical School / Education

College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY


UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA


(Pediatric Neurosurgery) Children's Hospital of Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Academic Affiliations

Adjunct faculty, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, Arizona State University; Affiliate Research Faculty, Arizona Emergency Medicine research Center, University of Arizona Tucson; Clinical Professor of Surgery/Neurosurgery, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, Department of Child Health

Professional Affiliations

Member of American Academy of Neurological Surgeons; Section of Neurological Surgery, American Academy of Pediatrics; American Association of Neurological Surgeons; Executive Committee for the American College of Surgeons; American Epilepsy Society; American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons; Hydrocephalus Association; International Neurotrauma Society; International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery; Joint Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery; Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care; Councilor for the National Neurotrauma Society; Society of University Neurosurgeons; American Medical Association Member; American Association of Neurological Surgeons (ANS) Annual Meeting Committee; Scientific Program Committee, Chairman, Program Evaluation; Congress of Neurological Surgeons, International Division, Senior Advisor; Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Washington Committee, Quality Impact Workgroup and Strategic Planning Committee; National Trauma Institute, Board of Directors Charter Member; World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies, Vice Chair, Committee for International Initiatives; Alternative Delegate, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies World Congress Meeting


  • Best-Doc, Castle-Connolly, Top-Doc, US-News
  • Top-Doc,Best-Doc,US-News,Castle-Connolly

Questions & Answers

What led you to your career as a neurology doctor/surgeon?
I was always afraid of being bored. With neurosciences, I would never have all the answers. Also, I loved being around the best and brightest"

What is the best thing about your job?
The children are the best. They are so positive and want to get better and do things, not be in a hospital. Despite all we do to heal children, the parents are the worse for the wear and tear. The kids, they bounce back and just want to get on with their lives.

Have you received a special gift of thanks or piece of artwork from a child?
Yes, I have received a number of gifts throughout the years, pictures, stuffed animals, paintings, etc. The most touched though I have felt is a gift from a family whose child passed away recently, a St. Luke's medal, and protector of physicians. While not Catholic, I felt that when that child passed away, a piece of me went with her. The gift of thanks back to me, made me feel that it was okay.



What is your favorite children's book?

Where the Wild Things Are! By Maurice Sendak, by far! "The night Max wore his wolf suit..."



How do you go about calming a child's fears?

Aside from the wonderful work of the Child Life team?
I try to get down to their level. The issues and problems are all about them so it is most important that everything we do be about the child, and make them feel safe. It is important to let them know we are there to help, that we want to make them feel better, we will do the best we can, and get them back to their lives of growing and having fun. That is why we always try and deliver patient-centric care and not just talk about it!

How do you build trust with a parent?
I try and focus on the reason we are here, which is to help their child and that we will do the best we can both medical and through the process make it as easy as possible in a very stressful situation. I go over things in great detail and ensure that I have answered all of their questions before I leave and then ensure that there is not anything else our team, our hospital or I can do for them, medical or non-medical. I also give out to them my email since it goes right to my phone and allows them to access me whenever they want at whatever hour, whether due to a medical issue or if they are not receiving the care or treatment they should. I ensure parents know it is not only the medical issues that are important but we do the best we can to ensure that their experience is the least stressful on them and their child, and that will improve their outcomes.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to read (science, medical (yes I am a science geek) and non-medical- novels, biographies, etc.), exercise, play golf and most importantly spend time with my family."

Research & Publications

Spaite DW, Hu C, Bobrow BJ, Chikani V, Sherrill D, Barnhart B, Gaither JB, Denninghoff KR, Viscusi C, Mullins T, Adelson PD: Mortality and Prehospital Blood Pressure in Patients With Major Traumatic Brain Injury: Implications for the Hypotension Threshold. JAMA Surg. 2017 Apr 1;152(4):360-368. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2016.4686. PubMed PMID: 27926759

Neurotrauma in Children (Brain, Spinal Cord, Peripheral Nerve), Recovery and Neuroplasticity; Surgical Epilepsy; Evaluation and Treatment of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injuries
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