2024 Faces of NOLA Family

2024 The Face of Neurosurgery

Dr. Sebastian Koga, international man of medicine and founder of Koga Neurosurgery, has positioned himself at the forefront of neurosurgery in the Northshore and Greater New Orleans areas. Each day, he and his devoted team strive to redefine the boundaries of medicine, combining the precision of science with the artistry of personalized patient care.

Inspired by his father’s path as a psychiatrist, Dr. Koga pursued his studies and graduated from the University of Oxford, Tulane University School of Medicine, and the University of Virginia neurosurgery program. After two additional fellowships and global training, he established Koga Neurosurgery when he moved to Covington in 2014, building the region’s first comprehensive neurosurgery program. Driven by dissatisfaction with the industrialization of healthcare, Dr. Koga aspires to provide a more personal, concierge-like approach to patients who are not treated as numbers but as individuals with unique needs. He aims to cultivate an environment that encourages local patients to stay local, reducing the need for medical tourism. Many patients do not realize an expert with Dr. Koga’s skillset and knowledge is so close to home.

The Koga Neurosurgery clinic specializes in brain and complex spinal surgeries. Dr. Koga has garnered a reputation for revision spine surgery and is essentially solving problems for patients who did not get better with conventional procedures or had multiple failed operations elsewhere. Some patients travel from out of state and internationally from Latin America and the Middle East, recognizing the value of his skills. 

Dr. Koga has an empathetic understanding of how illness, especially brain tumors, affects not just individuals but also their family and their entire support system. “For me, neurosurgery is akin to a priesthood, it is a life-long all-consuming vocation, where I always think I must do more and better tomorrow,” says Dr Koga. He works hard to educate his patients, showing them MRI images and anatomic models, explaining to each person exactly what is wrong and how it can be fixed in a way they can understand. After all, Dr. Koga believes “the brain is the most interesting organ in the body,” and is humbled by its complexity despite huge advancements in medical technology. 

Beyond clinical work, Dr. Koga immerses himself in discovery and research projects, including developing MRI software maps to guide surgery and new biomaterials for spinal implants. “Neurosurgery is a field in its infancy, with a vast frontier awaiting discovery.  I am not doing the same things today as I was five years ago,” says Dr. Koga. He is also involved in basic science research at the NIH and the testing of new devices in a laboratory setting. “I hope we are just around the corner from adding something really important to surgical technologies.”

Dr Koga says “the secret sauce” to this clinic is the staff. Every employee has been handpicked by Dr Koga and has worked and grown over the years to a level of professionalism seldom seen in outpatient medicine. Patients compliment his assistants’ knowledge as often as the surgeon’s. The complexity of a surgical clinic requires a team with tremendous patience and people-skills. “My team knows I am utterly against convenience; we always do it the hard way– the right way. We take responsibility, we stay late, we answer every question, we don’t rush our work, and we don’t rush our surgery”.

As part of its evolution, the clinic is adding more perioperative care such as nutrition, social work, and psychological services.  “Patients undergoing neurosurgery expect and deserve technical excellence, but beyond the operation, we have so many gaps for their long-term healing and wellness.”

In terms of future plans, Dr. Koga plans to reach more patients by opening additional clinics on the Gulf Coast and traveling abroad more often to perform surgeries on patients who cannot come to the US. 

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