Many times surgical care is needed to help stop or lessen disease associated with the brain and spinal cord. Our neurosurgeons work closely with other pediatric sub-specialists for consult on their surgical cases.
A shunt is a catheter that is placed under the skin in order to drain fluid and reduce pressure on the brain. It is a treatment for hydrocephalus where excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) causes pressure in the brain and also can cause the skull to expand. Usually a ventriculoperitoneal shunt is placed to drain the fluid into the stomach where it can be absorbed by the body. Shunts can usually be adjusted externally so that further surgery is not necessary.
Neuroendoscopy is a less invasive surgical procedure used to biopsy hard to reach tumors or drain cerebrospinal fluid from the brain. Small tools allow the surgeon to visualize areas that are deep inside the brain and use tiny instruments to perform the surgery. Endoscopic third ventriculostomies can be performed, in which the surgeon opens a passage for cerebrospinal fluid to escape from the third ventricle.
Spina Bifida Surgery
Spina Bifida requires surgery to prevent further damage to the spinal cord and prevent infection. The first surgery is performed within the first two days of the child’s life. The spinal cord and nerves are placed back into the membrane and the defects in the cord and membrane are closed. The wound is covered with muscle and skin flaps from the back. Further surgeries are needed to correct deformities. A pediatric neurosurgeon is a part of the Spina Bifida Core Care Team.
Brain Tumor Surgery
Pediatric neurosurgeons remove as much of the tumor as possible without disrupting the other tissues surrounding it. Next, radiotherapy or chemotherapy is used to kill the remaining tumor cells and prevent re-growth of the tumor. Pediatric neurosurgeons serve as consults to the pediatric hematology/oncology team.
Tethered Cord Surgery
Tethered cord surgery fixes the abnormal attachments to the spinal cord and reconstructs the normal anatomy of spinal cord coverings. The complexity of the surgery varies depending on how many nerve roots are involved and what other body processes can be disrupted.