In 1993, Dr. Nehls founded his practice in Washington State. Since then, his exceptional surgical ability and clinical judgment, and his caring approach to patients and families have established Dr. Nehls as one of the premier neurosurgeons in the region. Dr. Nehls enjoys an outstanding reputation among patients and fellow physicians alike. His professional interests range from brain tumors to complex vascular lesions to spinal disorders to brain and spinal trauma. Dr. Nehls is especially honored that 38 other physicians in the community have asked him to provide care for themselves, and that an additional 24 physicians have referred other family members for treatment. These have included surgeons, internists, orthopedic surgeons, family practice doctors, neurologists and 12 anesthesiologists.
Dr. Nehls has extensive experience, and a special expertise, in the treatment of disorders of the spine; including disc herniations, neck and back pain, spinal stenosis, Chiari malformation, spinal instability and spinal tumors. A special interest of Dr. Nehls is the cervical artificial disc. Dr. Nehls is among the most proficient surgeons in the region. He has acted as an instructor for the ProDisc-C, having taught almost 500 other neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons the technique at over two dozen courses around the country. When the Swiss owner of Synthes (the maker of the ProDisc-C) had a friend in Oregon who needed the ProDisc-C, he sought out Dr. Nehls to perform the surgery. Dr. Nehls has also worked closely with Synthes and other companies in testing and developing intervertebral devices that are smaller and less obtrusive than typical spinal plates.
Dr. Nehls has had exceptional training in neurovascular disorders (aneurysms and AVMs). He also treats all forms of brain tumors, including primary brain tumors, meningiomas, metastatic cancer and tumors of the pituitary gland. He was the first neurosurgeon in the South Sound to implant Gliadel wafers into brain tumors (chemotherapy wafers that dissolve and deliver treatment to any remaining tumor). Dr. Nehls works closely with the radiation oncologists to treat tumors with the Gamma Knife.
Dr. Nehls received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Northwestern University, Chicago in 1980. He completed a General Surgery internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC in 1981. Dr. Nehls trained in Neurosurgery with preeminent neurosurgeon, Robert Spetzler at the world-renowned Barrow Neurological Institute, in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1986, the New York Academy of Medicine awarded Dr. Nehls with the Charles Elsberg fellowship, an endowment which provides for a year of study at any location worldwide. He traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, to the Wellcome Surgical Institute to study cerebral blood flow and metabolism, and to explore treatments for stroke.
Before moving to Tacoma, Dr. Nehls practiced Neurosurgery for 6 years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington DC, and William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. At Walter Reed, Dr. Nehls was a senior faculty member, training Neurosurgery residents. He served as Acting Chief of Neurosurgery, and Acting Neurosurgery Residency Director. Dr. Nehls has been a Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas Tech School of Medicine and retains an appointment as Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. He has authored more than 50 publications, including 9 book chapters, and has lectured extensively throughout North America, and Europe. Dr. Nehls has been Board Certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery since 1990, and has been a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons since 1991. He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
Dr. Nehls has been active in the medical community, serving on numerous committees at Good Samaritan Hospital, St Joseph Hospital and Tacoma General Hospital. These have included trauma, surgery, medical research, emergency services and executive committees. In 1998 and 1999, Dr. Nehls served as the Surgery Chairman at Tacoma General Hospital. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the Medical Staff Vice President at St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center, and also served on the Medical Executive Committee.
Dr. Nehls and his family live in Tacoma. He is the father of four sons. In his spare time he enjoys fly-fishing, skiing, music, and gourmet cooking.