Pediatric neurosurgery is geared toward children’s brains, which are not yet fully formed and continually growing. This specialization of neurosurgery forms part of the treatment plan for a child with a condition that can only resolve after surgical intervention.
When pediatric neurosurgery procedures become an option
There are many health conditions that can affect a child’s brain. Some of them are congenital; others develop as the child grows while others happen as a result of trauma to the skull and brain. For each patient, a pediatric neurosurgeon will choose the most conservative yet effective approach to treat a brain disorder. Sometimes, that approach will incorporate neurosurgery.
Pediatric neurosurgical procedures can be intensive or minimally invasive. Advances in surgical techniques and other treatments result in newer neurosurgical procedures that are increasingly low risk and less invasive. Here are some common pediatric neurosurgery procedures and the conditions they treat:
1. Resection or debulking of brain tumors
Debulking is the surgical removal of the portion of a tumor that can be safely removed. The end goal of this procedure is to reduce the amount of pressure the tumor puts on the brain. During this procedure, a pediatric neurosurgeon will leave the inoperable part of the tumor undisturbed, to prevent injury to the brain.
Resection is the total removal of a brain tumor. Neurosurgeons always hope for cases where they get to remove a tumor in its entirety, without risk to their patient.
A tumor located at the base of the skull or the top of the spine is often reachable through the nose and sinuses. In such cases, neurosurgeons choose a less invasive surgical procedure known as an endonasal endoscopy. This procedure involves removing the tumor through the nose and sinuses, with the help of an endoscope.
This is a minor surgical procedure for diagnostic purposes. During a biopsy, a neurosurgeon will retrieve a tissue sample from an abnormal growth or lesion in the brain. They will take the sample for further testing. The results of the test should tell the neurosurgeon about the nature of their patient’s growth.
3. Micro-vascular clipping or embolization to treat a cerebral aneurysm
An aneurysm happens when a section of blood vessel fills with blood and stretches like a balloon. At some point, the aneurysm could burst. A pediatric neurosurgeon may take a proactive approach and block the flow of blood to the aneurysm, which prevents it from bursting. This procedure is known as embolization. Or the neurosurgeon could remove the artery that supplies blood to the affected blood vessel. This procedure is known as microvascular clipping.
4. Surgical treatment for a nerve injury or disorder
An injured nerve can limit the function of the body part that this nerve controls. A pediatric neurosurgeon will sometimes repair the damaged nerve. When a nerve disorder causes involuntary muscle spasms, a neurosurgeon may perform a rhizotomy. Simply put, this procedure involves isolating or finding the nerve causing the spasms and cutting it. The surgeon will use electrical stimulation to find the problem nerve.
A pediatric neurosurgeon treats common neurological disorders as well
A pediatrician will refer patients to pediatric neurosurgeons for surprisingly common conditions. There are surgical procedures included in treatment plans for conditions like epilepsy, Down's syndrome and cerebral palsy. So, if you want your child to have a better quality of life, reach out to schedule a consultation.
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