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Hidden Gems: Meet Kenan Arnautovic of Semmes-Murphey Neurological and Spine Institute

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenan Arnautovic.

Hi Kenan, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I came to the United States 27 years ago after a terrible war experience in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city of Sarajevo was surrounded by Serbian forces who had cut off electricity and water; there was a constant barrage of shelling and snipers. During that time, I was a neurosurgeon at the university hospital taking care of neurosurgically wounded patients, mostly civilians and children.

After that horrifying experience, I came to the U.S. to do a skull-base fellowship in Little Rock, AR with the world-renowned skull-base neurosurgeon, Dr. Almefty. Subsequently, I decided to complete another neurosurgical residency in the U.S. to be able to practice here. Upon completion, falling in love with the South and the climate, I decided to stay in the area and accept a position at Semmes-Murphey Clinic and the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of TN – Memphis. Fast forward, I have been practicing neurosurgery here in Memphis for 19 years. Over that time, in addition to practicing neurosurgery, I enjoy teaching neurosurgical residents and fellows and volunteer in various neurosurgical societies. In the process, I became the Second Vice-President of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies and Chair of the International Programs Committee for the American Association of Neurosurgical Surgery.

My daughters grew up in Memphis and I fell in love with this city and its community.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
My family and I have had our ups and downs during this time, including many usual professional challenges. One of the most difficult things for my wife and I was taking care of our elderly parents back in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, I was very well received in the community both among my peers, neurosurgical and other medical colleagues as well as patients. I try to give everything back to my patients and always try to take good care of them.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Semmes-Murphey Clinic was established over 100 years ago by Drs. Eustace Semmes and Francis Murphey. Since then, it has become one of the prime neurosurgical programs in the nation. It provides complete neurosurgical services to the Mid-South community as well as education for residents and fellows in neurosurgery and its sub-specialties.

I personally specialize in skull-base neurosurgery, brain and spinal cord tumors, pituitary tumors, Chiari I malformations in adults, complex cervical spine surgery, and general neurosurgery. I try to offer my patients state-of-the-art neurosurgical care in neurosurgical diseases, empowered by a personal, hands-on approach to fit each patient’s individual need. I was blessed with a lengthy education in neurosurgery, which provided me with the opportunity to learn various neurosurgical techniques by a number of masters in the field. I also enjoy traveling around the U.S. and the world, teaching at various neurosurgical courses as a faculty, educating young neurosurgeons and also learning in the process from their questions and my discussions with co-faculty neurosurgical colleagues.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
Credit for my successful career first goes to my family – my wife Sanja and daughters, Aska and Alisa – who have provided me unconditional support during many years of my career. My parents Azijada and Ibrahim, who always taught me human decency and to aim for perfection. It also goes to my mentors, Drs. Almefty, Yasargil, Krisht, Boop, Pait, and many others who taught me the craft of neurosurgery. Most importantly, the credit goes to my patients who entrust me with their lives and pathological conditions to treat them and improve/cure their conditions.

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