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Conditions Treated

At UNC Pediatric Neurosurgery, we utilize advanced imaging and surgical techniques to treat the children of North Carolina with conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord. Some of our more frequent consultations include:

Cerebral Palsy & Spasticity

Cerebral palsy refers to a condition that affects muscle movement. The muscles of some children with cerebral palsy are stiff and rigid, and may have trouble controlling reflexes. This is known as spasticity.

We work closely with pediatricians and specialists to determine the best treatment for children. We offer surgical intervention that includes placement of a baclofen pump or selective dorsal rhizotomy with the goal of reducing spasticity.

Chiari Malformation 

Chiari malformation refers to a condition involving the posterior portions of the brain, brainstem and the skull. Chiari malformations can be associated with other conditions or appear on their own. They can be present at birth or develop after birth.

We work closely with pediatricians and specialists to diagnose the condition and develop a treatment plan. Both medical and surgical management may be implemented.

Craniosynostosis & Craniofacial Syndromes

Craniosynostosis refers to a condition when one or more of the sutures of an infant’s skull fuse together too early. This condition may be from unknown cause or part of a genetic syndrome.

We work closely with pediatricians and specialists to diagnose the condition. Diagnostic imaging reveals specifics and any other conditions associated with craniosynostosis. Generally, one suture is affected, however, multiple suture synostosis can develop. Craniosynostosis may cause abnormal brain development secondary to pressure in the skull.

UNC offers specialized expertise in caring for children with craniosynostosis. We work in conjunction with the craniofacial team, and evaluate and treat about 5 to 75 children with craniosynostosis each year.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy refers to an abnormality in the brain that triggers seizures. There are many treatments for epilepsy that include medicine, nutritional therapies, surgery or a combination of treatments.

UNC has much expertise in surgically treating children with epilepsy including placement of vagal nerve stimulators and surgically removing a portion of the brain. We work closely with pediatricians and neurologists to determine the best treatment.

Hydrocephalus in Children

Hydrocephalus refers to a condition where the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid causes increased pressure on the brain. Often, hydrocephalus must be treated with surgical intervention. We work closely with pediatricians and specialists to determine the cause and develop a surgical plan best suited for each individual child. The most common surgery for hydrocephalus involves inserting a shunt to redirect cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to another area of the body. In addition, there are other surgical methods for treating hydrocephalus that involve the use of an endoscope.

UNC has specialized expertise in treating children with hydrocephalus from diagnosis and surgical intervention to short- and long-term follow up care.

Pediatric Brain & Spinal Tumors

A tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue or cells and can occur in the brain and spinal cord.

We work closely with pediatricians, oncologists, and neurologists in the diagnosis and treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors in children. Treatment for brain and spinal cord tumors include surgery for biopsy and/or re-section, CyberKnife®, embolization or shunting. In addition, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may be necessary.

Post Natal Management of Congenital Spine & Cranial Defects

Myelomeningocele and spina bifida refer to a defect of the spinal bones and spinal cord. This defect can occur anywhere along the spinal cord and is most common in the lumbar and sacral area of the lower back.

We work closely with obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, urologists, orthopedists, and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists to provide high quality care to the patient as a newborn and throughout life.

Tethered Spinal Cord

Tethered spinal cord refers to a condition when the spinal cord is pulled down and fixed or stuck in a position instead of floating freely. In growing children, a tethered spinal cord can permanently damage the spinal nerves and can result in loss of function.

We work closely with pediatricians and specialists to diagnose the condition and then to develop the best treatment plan. Intraoperative neuromonitoring is utilized during surgery to closely monitor the nerves and muscles.

Traumatic Brain & Spinal Cord Injury

As a Level 1 Trauma Center, UNC provides high-quality care for injured and critically ill patients. We work closely with the Trauma Service and specialists to identify neurosurgical needs.

Brain and spinal cord trauma may require extensive rehabilitation and follow-up, and we work closely with specialists to meet the patient's needs during recovery and rehabilitation.

Vascular Malformation

Vascular malformations and vascular diseases affect the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain and spinal cord. These conditions are rare in children. UNC offers a variety of treatments for vascular conditions that include embolization, CyberKnife®, surgery, and revascularation.

We work closely with an interdisciplinary team to diagnose the disease and develop a treatment plan.

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