Pediatric Neurosurgery

What is pediatric neurosurgery?

Pediatric neurosurgery includes the evaluation, diagnosis, surgical and non-surgical treatment, critical care and rehabilitation of children with disorders of the nervous system. If a child has problems involving the head, spine or nervous system, a pediatric neurosurgeon will be the specialist who can treat a child because he or she has the necessary experience and training.

The neurological problems treated by pediatric neurosurgeons are quite different from those faced by neurosurgeons treating adults or general neurosurgeons. Pediatric neurosurgical problems are often lifelong and children with nervous system problems require continuous and close follow-up throughout childhood and adolescence. The most common conditions are deformities of the head or spine, problems and injuries to the brain, spine or nerve injuries, and birth injuries or congenital defects.

Pediatric neurosurgery treats children with disorders of the nervous system.

What conditions are treated in pediatric neurosurgery?

Pediatric neurosurgeons treat the following conditions:

  • Brain and spinal tumors
  • Head and spinal traumas
  • Intracranial infections requiring surgery
  • Chiari malformations
  • Neurovascular conditions
  • Hydrocephalus and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) alternations
  • Spina bifida, complex spinal dysraphism and spinal lipomas
  • Drug-resistant epilepsy
  • Simple and complex craniofacial anomalies: craniosynostosis
  • Spasticity

How are pediatric brain tumors different from adult brain tumors?

There are many different types of tumors depending on their location and the treatments used to treat them. Most tumors in children develop in the back of the brain (the posterior fossa) and most tumors in adults occur in the cerebral hemispheres. Most brain tumors that develop in adults spread from other parts of the body. In children, brain tumors usually start in the brain.

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How can parents know if they need to see a pediatric neurosurgeon?

Children are referred to a specialist by their pediatrician. This happens if the pediatrician notices that the child’s head is not growing properly or if the child has birthmarks on the lower back that should not appear in this area. Perhaps the child is not developing properly.