Team Approach
Dr. Matthew Tormenti, a new addition to Princeton Brain & Spine Care’s team of neurosurgeons, deepens the practice’s commitment to healing patients with ailments of the head, neck and spine
by Bill Donahue

In the world of professional sports, teamwork is everything. When a new team member is brought into the fold—at the trade deadline, perhaps, when good teams look to get even better before taking a serious run at the championship—it tends to change not only the team’s chemistry in the locker room but, more importantly, enhance its performance on the field.

The team of neurosurgeons at Princeton Brain & Spine Care, which has locations in Bucks County and New Jersey, can relate. Recently the practice added a new member in Matthew Tormenti, M.D., who joins a seasoned staff that includes Mark R. McLaughlin, M.D., F.A.C.S.; Nirav K. Shah, M.D., F.A.C.S.; and Seth S. Joseffer, M.D., F.A.C.S. In addition to his newfound colleagues, what Dr. Tormenti appreciates most about the practice—and what drew him here from his cross-state roots in Pittsburgh—is the practice’s philosophy regarding patient care.

“Everything here is about the individual, and you can’t always get that from some of the larger health care systems around the country,” he says. “Coming here from Pittsburgh, which has two of the country’s largest health care systems, the focus isn’t necessarily on the individual. Here, the practice is dedicated to the patient, and you really spend time with each one. It’s important having the ability to be there for the patient every step of the way; they get to see and talk to the person who is doing their procedure, before and after. I think they appreciate that, and so do we as surgeons.”

Dr. Tormenti is in very good company at Princeton Brain & Spine Care. Each of his fellow surgeons at the practice has excelled in a leading neurosurgical training program, and received subspecialty training in very specific areas of neurosurgery. In other words, patients can be confident in knowing that they are receiving the finest care delivered by the region’s most skilled doctors. Princeton Brain & Spine physicians are trained in providing a wide array of treatments—including minimally invasive or less invasive treatments—so there are often several options to treat a certain injury or condition. Furthermore, the physicians understand how debilitating chronic pain and other issues of the head, neck and spine can be, so each team member is committed to resolving such conditions in an uncomplicated and stress-free manner.

For his part, Dr. Tormenti specializes in complex spinal surgery and skull base brain surgery. Skull base surgery is used to treat benign and malignant tumors of the skull base, as well as pituitary tumors, which can have a significant negative effect on the optic nerve. Pituitary tumors can cause headache, severe vision problems, infertility, sexual dysfunction, nausea and other potentially life-altering symptoms. If the surgery is performed early enough into the process, however, any related vision loss can often be recovered and preserved. There are other benefits to endoscopic surgery as well. “When done through a minimal access corridor, the scar is on the inside as opposed to on the outside,” he says. “We’ve eliminated the outward scar from the surgery.”

Dr. Tormenti earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry, graduating magna cum laude from Virginia Tech University, where he competed as a varsity wrestler. He then went on the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh residency training program in neurological surgery, which has been ranked among the leading academic programs in the United States.

During his training, Dr. Tormenti spent time learning all aspects of neurological surgery, with specialized training in complex spinal surgery, skull base surgery and brain trauma. He is one of a handful of neurosurgeons capable of performing complex spinal scoliosis reconstructions, as well as minimally invasive spine operations. In addition, he completed a two-year fellowship in endoscopic skull base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, which is an international destination for this type of surgery. Furthermore, he was recently awarded the Stuart Rowe Prize in neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh for his research in brain injury/concussion.

His fascination with neurosurgery began at a young age, thanks to a close cousin—“he was more like a big brother,” he says—who was studying this specific branch of medicine. He also remembers a book titled “When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery” by Frank Vertosick Jr., about a young medical student who learned his craft at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, leaving an indelible mark on his young mind.

“It really touched home for me,” Dr. Tormenti says. “Neurosurgery became the thing that [Vertosick] decided to dedicate the rest of his life to, and the book really talked about how and why he fell in love with it. That book was really influential. I sought out similar opportunities that I read about in the book, and soon enough I found that the same thing happened to me: I fell in love with it, too.”

Dr. Tormenti, who officially joined Princeton Brain & Spine Care in mid-July, credits his new home to a case of serendipity. After his time in Pittsburgh, he was seeking new opportunities with a progressive practice at about the same time Dr. McLaughlin, who did his residency in neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh, was looking to add a neurosurgeon with complementary skills. “We sort of found each other,” Dr. Tormenti says. Even though he has been with the practice a relatively short period of time, he has been “busier than I thought,” seeing patients coming through the emergency room and assisting his fellow associates in the operating room.

“I really loved what they have established here,” he says. “We do quality neurosurgery that is top of the line and cutting edge, without the encumbrance of an overwhelming corporate structure. … It really is a team here, not a hierarchy, and everybody is helping each other out. It’s a mix between seeing patients in the office and being in the operating room, which as surgeons is where we all love to be. It’s been a great fit, and I’m thrilled to be here.”

His newfound teammates—not to mention his patients—can say the same of him.

Princeton Brain & Spine Care |

Five Area Campuses:
St. Clare Medical Building
1203 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Suite 138
Langhorne, PA 19047
Phone: 215-741-3141

731 Alexander Road,
Suite 200
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609-921-9001

St. Francis Medical Center
601 Hamilton Ave.
Hamilton, NJ 08629
Phone: 609-921-9001

901 W. Main Street
CentraState Medical Center, Ambulatory Campus,
Suite 267, Freehold, NJ  07728
Phone: 732-333-8702

Hunterdon Medical Pavillion (behind CVS Pharmacy)
190 State Hwy. 31, Suite 300B
Flemington, NJ 08822
Phone: 908-229-6627

Photography by Kim Billingsley