Common Procedures Performed by a Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Posted on: October 10, 2023

Pediatric Neurosurgeon Orange, CA

Pediatric neurosurgery is a specialized branch of medicine focusing on surgical procedures for disorders that affect children's brains, spinal cords, and nervous systems. Pediatric neurosurgeons are skilled professionals who undergo extensive training to manage neurological conditions in infants, children, and teenagers. Here are some of the most common procedures these medical professionals perform and how they contribute to the health and well-being of young patients.

Brain tumor resection

Brain tumors in children can be benign or malignant and may occur from various brain structures. A pediatric neurosurgeon's expertise is essential in safely removing (resecting) these tumors while preserving critical brain functions. The neurosurgeon uses advanced surgical techniques and tools, such as intraoperative navigation and neuroimaging, to minimize damage to surrounding healthy brain tissue while removing as much of the tumor as possible.

Epilepsy surgery

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes children to have recurrent seizures. While many parents use medication to minimize symptoms, some children may need epilepsy surgery when medication is insufficient. Pediatric neurosurgeons can perform various procedures, such as:

  • Resective surgery: This procedure removes the area of the brain causing seizures. Typically, the surgeon does resective surgery on one of the temporal lobes.
  • Corpus callosotomy: This surgery completely or partially removes part of the brain that connects nerves on the right and left sides of the brain. A neurosurgeon reserves this procedure for children who experience irregular brain activity that spreads from one area of the brain to another.
  • Hemispherectomy: A hemispherectomy is a procedure that removes one side of the brain (cerebral cortex). A neurosurgeon typically chooses this surgery for children who experience seizures in multiple areas in one hemisphere.

Craniosynostosis surgery

When a baby is born, their skull consists of several bone plates separated by flexible joints (sutures). As they grow and develop, the sutures close and form a solid piece of bone. However, some infants develop craniosynostosis, a condition when the sutures close too early and cause issues with normal brain and skull growth.

A pediatric neurosurgeon will often recommend surgery to reduce pressure in the infant's head and correct any deformities of the face and skull. There are two types of craniosynostosis surgical procedures: calvarial vault remodeling and endoscopic craniosynostosis. The type of surgery depends on the severity of the craniosynostosis, parental preference, and the infant's age.

Calvarial vault remodeling

The neurosurgeon makes an incision in the infant's scalp and moves the area of the skull that is abnormally or prematurely fused to correct the shape of the head. They then reshape the skull so it can look rounder. This surgery can last up to six hours and is not recommended for children less than five months of age.

Endoscopic craniosynostosis surgery

The neurosurgeon uses an endoscope, a small tube that they can look through to see the inside and outside of the skull through small incisions on the child's scalp. The surgeon opens the suture to allow the brain to grow normally. This surgery is much less extensive than calvarial vault remodeling and takes only about one hour to complete. Following the procedure, the infant will need to wear a molding helmet to shape the skull and go to follow-up appointments every three months for the first year to check the skull reshaping process.

Chiari malformation decompression

Chiari malformation is where the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for coordination, extends into the spinal canal. This causes compression and neurological symptoms. Pediatric neurosurgeons often perform Chiari malformation decompression surgery to alleviate pressure on the brain and spinal cord. This procedure creates more space around the cerebellum and restores the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

Do you have questions about pediatric neurosurgery?

If your child has been diagnosed with a neurological condition, it is important to remember that you are not alone on this journey. Our team is here to support you and your child through the process. Call our office to learn more about pediatric neurosurgery and schedule a consultation. 

Request an appointment here: https://www.drloudonpediatricneurosurgery.com or call Dr. William G. Loudon, Pediatric Neurosurgery at (714) 677-9463 for an appointment in our Orange office.

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