Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that happens very early on in pregnancy. Babies with the condition are usually delivered by cesarean section and brought to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Pediatric neurosurgeons fix the holes left open in the vertebrae due to spina bifida shortly after birth. This procedure does not return normal function to the spinal cord. As your child grows older, the pediatric neurosurgeon will work with other pediatric specialists to create a plan for managing spina bifida. Your child may experience continued central nervous system problems and difficulties with bladder and bowel control and lower limb movement.
Pediatric neurosurgeons work with neurologists and oncologists to address tumor growths in the central nervous system. When a tumor has been identified, your child will have a biopsy to determine if it is malignant or benign. The tumor may be removed surgically.
Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain. It affects one in every 500 children. The condition may be caused by spina bifida, tumors or cysts or head trauma. Hydrocephalus is treated with a shunt that lets the fluid to drain into the torso. The treatment is usually successful without complications. However, hydrocephalus sometimes results in learning disabilities, visual problems and developmental delays. The shunt is placed during a simple procedure under general anesthesia.
Craniosynostosis, or abnormal skill shape, results from the fusion of two or more sutures in your child's skull. The sutures are usually gaps that allow your baby's skull to grow. If the sutures grow together, the skull has to grow in a different direction. This sometimes makes the skull appear cone-shaped. A pediatric neurosurgeon will treat this issue by completing surgery before your child reaches age 1. He will increase the volume of the skull so that the brain can grow without pressure and improve the look of the skull and the forehead.
Learn about the Pediatric Neurosurgery specialists who are part of East Tennessee Children's Hospital: