Ciara D. Harraher, MD, MPH, FRCSC, is a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery. She received her medical degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and her Master of Public Health from Harvard University. Dr. Harraher completed her neurosurgery residency at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and fellowships in vascular neurosurgery and Cyberknife radiosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Harraher is the Chief of Neurosurgery at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and leads the Stanford Neurosurgery Outreach Clinic. She has a general neurosurgery practice that predominantly treats patients with brain tumors, degenerative spine conditions and carotid stenosis. She is active in her community and regularly speaks at health care events and educational sessions for primary care physicians. She is on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Neurological Surgeons and is President-Elect. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the California Medical Association. She is an active member with leadership positions in the Western Neurosurgical Society, The Neurosurgical Society of America, The Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Harraher is an associate faculty of the Educators for Care (E4C) Program at Stanford Medical School and teaches Principles of Medicine to MD students. Her research interests include surgical outcomes and she is a co-investigator on a clinical trial related to surgical management of stroke. She has co-authored several papers relating to vascular disorders, spine conditions and brain tumor management. She has also spoken internationally on issues related to diversity in neurosurgery.

Clinical Focus

  • Neurosurgery
  • Degenerative Spine Conditions
  • Neurotrauma
  • Brain and Spine Tumors
  • Carotid stenosis
  • Neurological Surgery

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Associate, Educators-4-Care, Practice of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine (2014 - Present)
  • Member of Clinician Educator Appointments and Promotions Committee, Stanford University School of Medicine (2021 - Present)
  • Chief of Neurosurgery, Dominican Hospital (2014 - Present)
  • Medical Director, Dominican Hospital (2011 - Present)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • President-Elect, California Association of Neurological Surgeons (2023 - Present)
  • Vice-Chair, AANS Practice Management committee (2023 - Present)
  • Vice-Chair of Content, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations (CPR) committee (2023 - Present)
  • District 7 Trustee, California Medical Association (2022 - Present)
  • Past-Chair of Membership committee, Scientific Program committee and CME committee, Western Neurological Society (2013 - Present)
  • Fellow, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (2013 - Present)
  • Active Member, Congress of Neurological Surgeons (2011 - Present)
  • Board Member, Dominican Hospital Foundation (2014 - Present)
  • Board Member, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (2015 - Present)

Professional Education

  • FRCSC, Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, Neurosurgery (2011)
  • M.P.H., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University (2008)
  • M.D., DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Canada (2004)
  • B.Sc., University of King’s College, Canada, Neuroscience and Philosophy (1999)
  • Medical Education: McMaster University Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine Registrar (2004) Canada
  • Residency: Dalhousie University (2010) Canada
  • Internship: Dalhousie University (2005) Canada
  • Board Certification: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Neurosurgery (2011)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I am interested in medical education and I am an Associate in the Practice of Medicine and doctoring with CARE ( E4C) Program. I am also interested in surgical outcomes research and I am involved in clinical trials studying brain tumors and stroke. I have also presented internationally on issues related to improving diversity in Neurosurgery.

Clinical Trials

  • Minimally Invasive Surgery Plus Rt-PA for ICH Evacuation Phase III Not Recruiting

    A phase III, randomized, case-controlled, open-label, 500-subject clinical trial of minimally invasive surgery plus rt-PA in the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH).

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial. For more information, please contact Madelleine Garcia, 650-723-4448.

    View full details

2023-24 Courses

All Publications

  • Patterns of Progression in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma Treated with 5 mm Margins on a Phase I/II Trial of 5 Fraction Stereotactic Radiosurgery with Concurrent and Adjuvant Temozolomide. Practical radiation oncology Mendoza, M. G., Azoulay, M., Chang, S. D., Gibbs, I. C., Hancock, S. L., Pollom, E. L., Adler, J. R., Harraher, C., Li, G., Gephart, M. H., Nagpal, S., Thomas, R. P., Recht, L. D., Jacobs, L. R., Modlin, L. A., Wynne, J., Seiger, K., Fujimoto, D., Usoz, M., von Eyben, R., Choi, C. Y., Soltys, S. G. 2023


    BACKGROUND: In patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM), tumor margins of at least 20 mm are the standard of care. We sought to determine the pattern of tumor progression in patients treated with 5 fraction stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) with 5 mm margins.METHODS: Thirty adult patients with newly diagnosed GBM were treated with 5 fraction SRS in escalated doses from 25 Gy to 40 Gy with a 5 mm total treatment margin. Progression was scored as 'in-field' if the recurrent tumor was within or contiguous with the 5 mm margin, 'marginal' if between 5 and 20 mm, and 'distant' if entirely occurring greater than 20 mm. As geometric patterns of progression do not reflect the biologic dose received, we calculated the minimum equieffective dose in 2 Gy per day (EQD2) at the site of tumor recurrence. Progression was 'dosimetrically in-field' if covered by a minimum EQD2 of 48 Gy10.RESULTS: From 2010 to 2016, 27 patients had progressed. Progression was in-field in 17 (63%), marginal in 3 (11%) and distant in 7 (26%) patients. In the 3 patients with marginal progression, the minimum EQD2 to recurrent tumor were 48 Gy10, 56 Gy10 (both considered dosimetrically in-field) and 7 Gy10 (i.e., dosimetrically out-of-field). Median overall survival (OS) was 12.1 months for in-field (95%CI 8.9-17.6), 15.1 months (95%CI 10.1-not achieved) for marginal and 21.4 months (95%CI 11.2-33.5) for distant progression. Patients with radiation necrosis were less likely to have in-field progression (1 of 7; 14%) compared to those without radiation necrosis (16 of 20; 80%; p = 0.003); those with necrosis had a median overall survival of 27.2 months (95%CI 11.2-48.3) compared to 11.7 months (95%CI 8.9-17.6) for patients with no necrosis (p = 0.077).CONCLUSION: In patients with newly diagnosed GBM treated with a 5 mm CTV margin, 3 patients (11%) had marginal progression within 5-20 mm; only 1 patient (4%) may have dosimetrically benefitted from conventional 20 mm margins. Radiation necrosis was associated with in-field tumor control.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.prro.2023.01.008

    View details for PubMedID 36736621

  • Socioeconomic Implications of Professional Relationships within Modern Care Delivery Systems. World neurosurgery Agarwal, N., Casillo, S. M., Simonds, G., Wakefield, A., Phelps, J., Linskey, M. E., Bell, R., Zalatimo, O., Akbari, S. H., Decker, M., Benko, M. J., Harraher, C., Wang, V., Guthikonda, B., Kimmell, K. T., Menger, R., Rosenow, J. M., Cozzens, J., Schirmer, C., Council of State Neurosurgical Societies 2021; 151: 353-363


    No physician can successfully deliver high-value patient care in the modern-day health care system in isolation. Delivery of effective patient care requires integrated and collaborative systems that depend on dynamic professional relationships among members of the health care team. An overview of the socioeconomic implications of professional relationships within modern care delivery systems and potential employment models is presented.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2021.04.035

    View details for PubMedID 34243669

  • A Phase I/II Trial of 5-Fraction Stereotactic Radiosurgery with 5-mm Margins with Concurrent Temozolomide in Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma: Primary Outcomes. Neuro-oncology Azoulay, M. n., Chang, S. D., Gibbs, I. C., Hancock, S. L., Pollom, E. L., Harsh, G. R., Adler, J. R., Harrahar, C. n., Li, G. n., Hayden Gephart, M. n., Nagpal, S. n., Thomas, R. P., Recht, L. D., Jacobs, L. R., Modlin, L. A., Wynne, J. n., Seiger, K. n., Fujimoto, D. n., Usoz, M. n., von Eyben, R. n., Choi, C. Y., Soltys, S. G. 2020


    We sought to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of 5-fraction stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) with 5-mm margins delivered with concurrent temozolomide in newly diagnosed glioblastoma.We enrolled adult patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma to 5 days of SRS in a 3+3 design on 4 escalating dose levels: 25, 30, 35, and 40 Gy. Dose limiting toxicity (DLT) was defined as CTCAE Grade 3-5 acute or late CNS toxicity, including adverse radiation effect (ARE), the imaging correlate of radiation necrosis.From 2010 to 2015, 30 patients were enrolled. The median age was 66 years (range 51-86 years). The median target volume was 60 cm3 (range 14.7-137.3 cm3). DLT occurred in 2 patients: one for post-treatment cerebral edema and progressive disease at 3 weeks (Grade 4, Dose 40 Gy); another patient died 1.5 weeks following SRS from post-operative complications (Grade 5, Dose 40 Gy). Late grade 1-2 ARE occurred in 8 patients at a median of 7.6 months (range 3.2-12.6 months). No grade 3-5 ARE occurred. With a median follow-up of 13.8 months (range 1.7-64.4 months), the median survival times were: PFS 8.2 months (95%CI 4.6-10.5), OS 14.8 months (95%CI 10.9-19.9), MGMT hypermethylated 19.9 months (95%CI 10.5-33.5) vs. 11.3 months (95%CI 8.9-17.6) for no/unknown hypermethylation (p=0.03), and 27.2 months (95%CI 11.2-48.3) if late ARE occurred vs. 11.7 months (95%CI 8.9-17.6) for no ARE (p=0.08).The per-protocol MTD of 5-fraction SRS with 5-mm margins with concurrent temozolomide was 40 Gy in 5 fractions. ARE was limited to grade 1-2 and did not statistically impact survival.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/neuonc/noaa019

    View details for PubMedID 32002547

  • Phase 1/2 Trial of 5-Fraction Stereotactic Radiosurgery With 5-mm Margins With Concurrent and Adjuvant Temozolomide in Newly Diagnosed Supratentorial Glioblastoma: Health-Related Quality of Life Results. International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics Pollom, E. L., Fujimoto, D., Wynne, J., Seiger, K., Modlin, L. A., Jacobs, L. R., Azoulay, M., von Eyben, R., Tupper, L., Gibbs, I. C., Hancock, S. L., Li, G., Chang, S. D., Adler, J. R., Harsh, G. R., Harraher, C., Nagpal, S., Thomas, R. P., Recht, L. D., Choi, C. Y., Soltys, S. G. 2017; 98 (1): 123-130


    We report a longitudinal assessment of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with glioblastoma (GBM) treated on a prospective dose escalation trial of 5-fraction stereotactic radiosurgery (25-40 Gy in 5 fractions) with concurrent and adjuvant temozolomide.HRQOL was assessed using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life questionnaire core-30 (QLQ-C30) general, the EORTC quality of life questionnaire-brain cancer specific module (QLQ-BN20), and the M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory-Brain Tumor (MDASI-BT). Questionnaires were completed at baseline and at every follow-up visit after completion of radiosurgery. Changes from baseline for 9 predefined HRQOL measures (global quality of life, physical functioning, social functioning, emotional functioning, motor dysfunction, communication deficit, fatigue, insomnia, and future uncertainty) were calculated at every time point.With a median follow-up time of 10.4 months (range, 0.4-52 months), 139 total HRQOL questionnaires were completed by the 30 patients on trial. Compliance with HRQOL assessment was 76% at 12 months. Communication deficit significantly worsened over time, with a decline of 1.7 points per month (P=.008). No significant changes over time were detected in the other 8 scales of our primary analysis, including global quality of life. Although 8 patients (27%) experienced adverse radiation effects (ARE) on this dose escalation trial, it was not associated with a statistically significant decline in any of the primary HRQOL scales. Disease progression was associated with communication deficit, with patients experiencing an average worsening of 13.9 points per month after progression compared with 0.7 points per month before progression (P=.01).On this 5-fraction dose escalation protocol for newly diagnosed GBM, overall HRQOL remained stable and appears similar to historical controls of 30 fractions of radiation therapy. Tumor recurrence was associated with worsening communication deficit, and ARE did not correlate with a decline in HRQOL.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.01.242

    View details for PubMedID 28586949

  • Delayed Presentation of Sciatic Nerve Injury after Total Hip Arthroplasty: Neurosurgical Considerations, Diagnosis, and Management. Journal of neurological surgery reports Xu, L. W., Veeravagu, A., Azad, T. D., Harraher, C., Ratliff, J. K. 2016; 77 (3): e134-8


    Total hip arthroplasty (THA) is an established treatment for end-stage arthritis, congenital deformity, and trauma with good long-term clinical and functional outcomes. Delayed sciatic nerve injury is a rare complication after THA that requires prompt diagnosis and management.We present a case of sciatic nerve motor and sensory deficit in a 52-year-old patient 2 years after index left THA. Electromyography (EMG) results and imaging with radiographs and CT of the affected hip demonstrated an aberrant acetabular cup screw in the posterior-inferior quadrant adjacent to the sciatic nerve.The patient underwent surgical exploration that revealed injury to the peroneal division of the sciatic nerve due to direct injury from screw impingement. A literature review identified 11 patients with late-onset neuropathy after THA. Ten patients underwent surgical exploration and pain often resolved after surgery with 56% of patients recovering sensory function and 25% experiencing full recovery of motor function.Delayed neuropathy of the sciatic nerve is a rare complication after THA that is most often due to hardware irritation, component failure, or wear-related pseudotumor formation. Operative intervention is often pursued to explore and directly visualize the nerve with limited results in the literature showing modest relief of pain and sensory symptoms and poor restoration of motor function.

    View details for DOI 10.1055/s-0035-1568134

    View details for PubMedID 27602309

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5011454

  • Long-Term Angiographic Findings in Patients Treated With Microsurgical Clipping of Intracranial Aneurysms Long-Term Angiographic Findings in Patients Treated With Microsurgical Clipping of Intracranial Aneurysms Harraher, C. D., Steinberg, G. K. 2014; 6 (11): e224

    View details for DOI 10.7759/cureus.224

  • Spinal Pilocytic Astrocytoma in an Elderly Patient WORLD NEUROSURGERY Harraher, C. D., Vogel, H., Steinberg, G. K. 2013; 79 (5-6)


    Astrocytomas are the most common intramedullary spinal cord tumor in pediatric and adolescent patients and the incidence decreases with age. There are very few cases of spinal pilocytic astrocytomas (World Health Organization grade 1) reported after the fourth decade. We report the oldest known case of a pathologically confirmed spinal pilocytic astrocytoma.A 78-year-old woman presented with 12 months of bilateral lower extremity numbness. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed cord edema extending from C6 to T4. There was a 12-mm enhancing intramedullary lesion at the C7-T1 level with an associated cyst. Several years prior, she had seen a neurologist for lower extremity numbness and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy.She underwent C7-T1 laminectomy with partial resection of the spinal cord tumor and drainage of the cyst. Pathologic examination demonstrated a mildly cellular proliferation of astrocytes set in an eosinophilic fibrillar background. There were numerous Rosenthal fibers and prominent vasculature. There were no malignant features. The pathologic diagnosis was consistent with pilocytic astrocytoma, World Health Organization grade 1. The patient returned to her baseline function after several weeks and the imaging remained stable at the 4-month follow-up.Spinal pilocytic astrocytomas constitute 90% of intramedullary spinal cord tumors in patients younger than 10 years and 60% of those in adolescent patients. There are very few reported cases in patients older than 50 years. Our patient had an indolent course, cervical-thoracic location, imaging characteristics, and pathology that all support a diagnosis of pilocytic astrocytoma. This case highlights that low-grade lesions can occur in elderly patients and an aggressive approach may not be indicated.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2011.10.033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320923300051

    View details for PubMedID 22120566

  • Multimodality management of Spetzler-Martin Grade III arteriovenous malformations JOURNAL OF NEUROSURGERY Pandey, P., Marks, M. P., Harraher, C. D., Westbroek, E. M., Chang, S. D., Do, H. M., Levy, R. P., Dodd, R. L., Steinberg, G. K. 2012; 116 (6): 1279-1288


    Grade III arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are diverse because of their variations in size (S), location in eloquent cortex (E), and presence of central venous drainage (V). Because they may have implications for management and outcome, the authors evaluated these variations in the present study.Between 1984 and 2010, 100 patients with Grade III AVMs were treated. The AVMs were categorized by Spetzler-Martin characteristics as follows: Type 1 = S1E1V1, Type 2 = S2E1V0, Type 3 = S2E0V1, and Type 4 = S3E0V0. The occurrence of a new neurological deficit, functional status (based on modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score) at discharge and follow-up, and radiological obliteration were correlated with demographic and morphological characteristics.One hundred patients (49 female and 51 male; age range 5-68 years, mean 35.8 years) were evaluated. The size of AVMs was less than 3 cm in 28 patients, 3-6 cm in 71, and greater than 6 cm in 1; 86 AVMs were located in eloquent cortex and 38 had central drainage. The AVMs were Type 1 in 28 cases, Type 2 in 60, Type 3 in 11, and Type 4 in 1. The authors performed embolization in 77 patients (175 procedures), surgery in 64 patients (74 surgeries), and radiosurgery in 49 patients (44 primary and 5 postoperative). The mortality rate following the management of these AVMs was 1%. Fourteen patients (14%) had new neurological deficits, with 5 (5%) being disabling (mRS score > 2) and 9 (9%) being nondisabling (mRS score ≤ 2) events. Patients with Type 1 AVMs (small size) had the best outcome, with 1 (3.6%) in 28 having a new neurological deficit, compared with 72 patients with larger AVMs, of whom 13 (18.1%) had a new neurological deficit (p < 0.002). Older age (> 40 years), malformation size > 3 cm, and nonhemorrhagic presentation predicted the occurrence of new deficits (p < 0.002). Sex, eloquent cortex, and venous drainage did not confer any benefit. In 89 cases follow-up was adequate for data to be included in the obliteration analysis. The AVM was obliterated in 78 patients (87.6%), 69 of them (88.5%) demonstrated on angiography and 9 on MRI /MR angiography. There was no difference between obliteration rates between different types of AVMs, size, eloquence, and drainage. Age, sex, and clinical presentation also did not predict obliteration.Multimodality management of Grade III AVMs results in a high rate of obliteration, which was not influenced by size, venous drainage, or eloquent location. However, the development of new neurological deficits did correlate with size, whereas eloquence and venous drainage did not affect the neurological complication rate. The authors propose subclassifying the Grade III AVMs according to their size (< 3 and ≥ 3 cm) to account for treatment risk.

    View details for DOI 10.3171/2012.3.JNS111575

    View details for PubMedID 22482792

  • Scalp Tumors Youmans Neurological Surgery Harraher, C. D., et al 2011