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    Physician biographies

    Gus Varnavas, MD

    Board-certified Neurosurgeon
    Fellowship trained in Neurosurgery

    Dr. Varnavas entered Loyola University in Chicago in 1982 and earned a bachelor's degree in classical studies in 1986. The same year, Dr. Varnavas was commissioned in the Air Force and entered the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Varnavas completed his M.D. degree in 1990 at the University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. He then completed a seven-year neurosurgery residency at State University of New York (SUNY) and then a one-year neurosurgery fellowship in 1998 at SUNY in skull base surgery and complex spine surgery. Dr. Varnavas is a Diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and a Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

    During his career, Dr. Varnavas had six years of service in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a neurosurgeon medical director; director of neurotrauma and critical care; and instructor of the military surgical trauma training course at Lackland Air Force Base at Wilford Hall Medical Center. While at Wilford Hall, he was the Director of Neuro-Trauma and Critical Care Divisions, a Senior Instructor for the TRACs course, and the AFSOC Medical consultant for the USAF Pararescue/ Combat Controller Indoctrination Course. In addition to his military duties, he was a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio until 2002. He co-authored the neuro-trauma chapter of the USAF Pararescue Medical Manual and collaborated on several other projects primarily in the areas of diagnosis, treatment and stabilization of brain and spinal injuries at the level of first responders, forward positions, transport and hospital. His other areas of interest and research in relation to the military continue in the areas of high altitude medicine, extreme environments lactic acid responses, training effectiveness, diagnostics and treatments.

    In 2002 he entered private practice as a neurosurgeon with Big Sky Neuroscience and Spine in Butte, MT. In 2007, Dr. Varnavas moved to Yakima, Washington and joined Yakima Neurosurgery Associates at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, where he practiced for more than three years before starting Pacific Northwest Spine.

    Dr. Varnavas specialized in spine surgery, with particular expertise in:

    complex neck (cervical) problems;
    thoracic (upper back) problems;
    revision spine surgery;
    spine tumor;
    spinal deformity;
    degenerative scoliosis; and
    occipital-cervical pathologies.

    Because successful removal of spinal tumors often requires complex reconstructive surgery, Dr. Varnavas has become proficient in surgeries requiring imaginative reconstruction and fixation of the occiput, neck and upper spine. Dr. Varnavas receives referrals from across Central Washington State for these complex cases, along with revision surgery for those patients who have had failed back surgery at other clinics, often acting as the spine surgeon of last resort for patients who have not been treated successfully by other spine clinics. In all cases, he strives to return patients to an active lifestyle.

    Dr. Gus Varnavas is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He is licensed to practice in both Montana and Washington

    In 2014, Dr. Varnavas relocated his spine practice 90 miles north to Wenatchee Valley and joined Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, part of Confluence Health. Dr. Varnavas specializes in spine surgery and in particular cervical spine surgery (neck surgery)..

    On a personal level, Dr. Varnavas is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, fishing and hunting. He is also an accomplished horse team driver and a chef. Dr. Varnavas along with Rod Alne are the owners and founders of The Peak Incorporated. His other personal interests include cycling, weight lifting, backpacking, skiing, history and philosophy.

    Helping those in the Special Forces

    As a side interest, Dr. Varnavas was a co-founder of The Peak ( http://www.thepeakinc.com) and continues to have involvement with this small business that helps Special Operating Forces (SOF) increase their effectiveness while operating in austere environments and in extreme combat conditions. Realistic, scenario-based, operational training is the foundation of The Peak’s success. The Peak provides world class, high altitude training to ensure maximum performance during extended periods of operation in austere conditions. Co-founded by Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Rod Alne, a 27-year veteran of the Air Force’s elite Pararescue Unit, and a combat veteran of both Irag and Afganistan. While on active duty in Afghanistan, Rod recognized significant shortfalls in environmental training within all the Special Operations Forces. Rod and Dr. Varnavas initially started The Peak to address those shortfalls and ultimately to save the lives of those in the Special Forces. Over the years, The Peak also has helped people from all walks-of-life — from elite law enforcement to telecommunications professionals. The Peak’s unique approach to wilderness training appeals to anyone that works or plays in the outdoors. The Peak over the years has also been used by companies like Mizuno and Polaris to provide realistic and harsh testing of the durability of their outdoor products.
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