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Dr. Nicol received his undergraduate education from the University of Notre Dame, studied at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and completed his neurosurgery residency at the University of Kentucky. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Nicol has been practicing in Flagstaff since 2002. His extensive experience in all aspects of neurosurgery has led him to have special interest in brain tumors, degenerative spine disorders and spinal reconstruction. Dr. Nicol is a fan of Notre Dame football, international soccer, and historical biographies. He enjoys playing soccer and volleyball. He and his wife have three awesome children and a loud cat.


Dr. Nicol explained everything to us
in a succinct way and made us
feel at ease with the process.
We experienced the same care and
competence from all of the staff
from the minute we walked into
the office to check out.

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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, MD

Dr. Sam Safavi-Abbasi is a board certified Neurosurgeon who has completed fellowships in Spinal Biomechanics as well as Vascular and Tumor Neurosurgery. After completing his fellowships at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona and his Neurosurgery residency training at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center he joined Flagstaff Neurosurgery.

Dr. Safavi specializes in minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures of the lumbar and cervical spine, treatment for low back pain and neck pain, brain tumors, Chiari malformation, trigeminal neuralgia and numerous other complex neurosurgical procedures.

Dr. Safavi-Abbasi spends his free time with his family, mountain biking, hiking, playing guitar and painting. He loves the lifestyle that Arizona provides. He performs Neurosurgical procedures both at Flagstaff Medical Center as well as in Phoenix at the Oasis Hospital.

Dr. Safavi is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and member of  the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FiENS).

Dr. Safavi-Abbasi has extensively published many book chapters, scientific and Neurosurgical articles and made numerous academic and educational presentations on Neurosurgical and Neuroscientific topics at national and international conferences and worked on scientific research on the functions of brain cells in Germany. Dr. Safavi received a doctorate degree in neuroscience at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He completed his medical degree at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). He also enjoys organizing neurosurgical missions. He has worked and trained in Neurosurgery around the world and recently completed a two week mission to Africa for Neurosurgical care in Tanzania.

Dr. Safavi-Abbasi’s selected publications on Spine and Brain topics:


Safavi-Abbasi S, Wolff JR, Missler M. Rapid morphological changes in astrocytes are accompanied by redistribution but not by quantitative changes of cytoskeletal proteins. Glia. 2001 Oct; 36(1): 102-15.

Safavi-Abbasi S, Di Rocco F, Chantra K, Feigl GC, El-Shawarby A, Samii A, Samii M. Posterior cranial fossa gangliogliomas. Skull Base. 2007 Jul;17(4):253-64.

Safavi-Abbasi S, Zabramski JM, Deshmukh P, Reis CV, Bambakidis NC, Theodore N, Crawford NR, Spetzler RF, Preul MC. Moving toward the petroclival region: a model for quantitative and anatomical analysis of tumor shift. J Neurosurg. 2007 Oct;107(4):797-804.

Samii M., Safavi-Abbasi S., & Samii A. (2006). Surgery of unusual cerebello-pontine angle tumors. Posterior Fossa Surgery. Eds. Spetzler R.F., Bambakidis N., Thieme 2008.

Bambakidis N. C., Safavi-Abbasi S. & Spetzler R. F. (2006). Combined Surgical Approaches: Posterior Fossa Surgery. Eds. Spetzler R.F., Bambakidis N., Thieme 2008.

Safavi-Abbasi S, Feiz-Erfan I, Spetzler RF, Kim L, Dogan S, Porter RW, Sonntag VK. Hemorrhage of cavernous malformations during pregnancy and in the peripartum period: causal or coincidence? Case report and review of the literature. Neurosurg Focus. 2006 Jul 15;21(1).

Safavi-Abbasi S, Bambakidis NC, Zabramski JM, Workman R, Verma K, Senoğlu M, Porter RW, Spetzler RF. Nonvestibular schwannomas: an evaluation of functional outcome after radiosurgical and microsurgical management. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2010 Jan; 152(1):35-46. Epub 2009 Jun 5.

Safavi-Abbasi S, Di Rocco F, Bambakidis N, Talley MC, Gharabaghi A, Luedemann W, Samii M, Samii A. Has management of epidermoid tumors of the cerebellopontine angle improved? A surgical synopsis of the past and present. Skull Base. 2008 Mar;18(2):85-98.


Safavi-Abbasi S, Reyes PM, Abjornson C, Crawford NR. Feasibility and Biomechanics of Multilevel Arthroplasty and Combined Cervical Arthrodesis and Arthroplasty. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2013 May 22.

Subramaniam V, Chamberlain RH, Theodore N, Baek S, Safavi-Abbasi S, Senoğlu M, Sonntag VK, Crawford NR. Biomechanical effects of laminoplasty versus laminectomy: stenosis and stability. Spine (Phila., Pa 1976). 2009 Jul 15; 34(16): E573-8.

Senoğlu N, Senoğlu M, Safavi-Abbasi S, Shedd SA, Crawford NR. Morphologic Evaluation of Cervical and Lumbar Facet Joints: Intra-Articular Facet Block Considerations. Pain Pract. 2010 Mar 2.

Rocha R, Sawa AG, Baek S, Safavi-Abbasi S, Hattendorf F, Sonntag VK, Crawford NR. Atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation with ligamentous disruption: a biomechanical comparison of current fusion methods. Neurosurgery. 2009 Mar; 64(3 Suppl):137-43; Discussion 143-4.


Safavi-Abbasi S, Maurer AJ, Rabb CH. Minimally invasive treatment of multilevel spinal epidural abscess. J Neurosurg Spine. 2013 Jan;18(1):32-5.

Foreman P, Safavi-Abbasi S, Gross NL, Mapstone TB. Perioperative outcomes and complications associated with management of 48 pediatric type I Chiari malformations with allogeneic duraplasty. Submitted to J Neurosurg. 2011 October.

Safavi-Abbasi S, Senoğlu M, Theodore N, Workman RK, Gharabaghi A, Feiz-Erfan I, Spetzler RF, Sonntag VK. Microsurgical management of spinal schwannomas: evaluation of 128 cases. J Neurosurg Spine. 2008 Jul; 9(1):40-7.

Dogan S, Safavi-Abbasi S, Theodore N, Chang SW, Horn EM, Mariwalla NR, Rekate HL, Sonntag VK. Thoracolumbar and sacral spinal injuries in children and adolescents: a review of 89 cases. J Neurosurg. 2007 Jun;106(6 Suppl):426-33.

Rocha R, Safavi-Abbasi S, Reis C, Theodore N, Bambakidis N, de Oliveira E, Sonntag VK, Crawford NR. Working area, safety zones, and angles of approach for posterior C-1 lateral mass screw placement: a quantitative anatomical and morphometric evaluation. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007 Mar;6(3):247-54.

Dogan S, Safavi-Abbasi S, Theodore N, Horn E, Rekate HL, Sonntag VK. Pediatric subaxial cervical spine injuries: origins, management, and outcome in 51 patients. Neurosurg Focus. 2006 Feb 15;20(2).

Cavalcanti DD, Martirosyan NL, Verma K, Safavi-Abbasi S, Porter RW, Theodore N, Sonntag VK, Dickman CA, Spetzler RF. Surgical management and outcome of schwannomas in the craniocervical region. J Neurosurg. 2011 May;114(5):1257-67. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Senoglu M, Safavi-Abbasi S, Theodore N, Bambakidis NC, Crawford NR, Sonntag VK. The frequency and clinical significance of congenital defects of the posterior and anterior arch of the atlas. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007 Oct;7(4):399-402.


Dr. Sam really helped me to fully understand the procedure
I needed to have and was super thoughtful in his examination,
spending lots of time with me, showing patience with my
questions and a caring attitude.