Physician spotlight: Dr. Norberto Andaluz

Norberto Andaluz, MD, isn't exactly sure what inspired him to become a doctor. No one in his immediate family worked in healthcare, and while growing up he never had a close friend or family member who was extremely ill. "I was not like many people who have that sad story about a relative who was sick, and they want to cure the disease in the future," he says.

Yet ever since he was a child, Dr. Andaluz knew he wanted to become a doctor. Perhaps, he says, the call to heal came from his immersion in the Catholic school system in his native Argentina, where the church "fills a lot of holes that the system does not fill" and emphasizes continuous service to those who suffer poverty, tragedy, fire or flood. As a youth he spent part of each summer at a home owned by his congregation. There, amidst the mountains and lakes of Patagonia, he helped supervise and mentor younger children.

"I had a strong religious education, and I grew up with strong values," Dr. Andaluz says. "The things I learned in school were about service and helping others. It shapes your personality. You don't feel complete if you haven't served."

Dr. Andaluz earned his medical degree and performed his residency at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina. He then came to Cincinnati for fellowships in neurosurgery and cerebrovascular neurosurgery, honing his skills in the treatment stroke, brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, tumors of the skull base, spinal disorders, and trauma. He began working at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center in 2005 and joined Mayfield Brain & Spine in 2011.

Dr. Andaluz has authored or co-authored more than 60 journal articles, 9 of which involve the evolution of the orbital approach to reaching brain aneurysms, benign and cancerous tumors, cysts, and some blood clots. The supraorbital keyhole approach involves making a curved incision over the eyebrow, gently pulling back a flap of skin, and then opening the skull above the eye in a craniotomy about the size of a 50-cent piece.

Away from the operating room, Dr. Andaluz spends as much time as he can with his wife (who speaks five languages) and their four children (who speak three). "My family is my priority in life, and I make every effort to be there," he says. He enjoys sports (especially soccer), skiing, and traveling when he has the opportunity.

When Dr. Andaluz was in his early teens, he took part in a mass led by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013. "He was very strict," Dr. Andaluz recalls. "In fact, he is today a very strict man. He seems soft, but he is extremely tough. The service, if I remember correctly, was about not falling into the traps and temptations of materialism. It was about staying true to the things that are most important and valuable in life -- friendships, family, doing good."