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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Pediatric Neurosurgery Services

Minimally Invasive Surgery

We offer the latest techniques in minimally invasive surgery. Benefits of these procedures include shorter recovery times, less pain, and fewer surgical risks than traditional surgery. For example, our experts can treat hydrocephalus and brain tumors through small, dime-sized incisions in the skull.

Sophisticated 3-D Computer Imaging

We are leaders in the field of non-invasive diagnostic testing, and have pioneered stereotactic--3-D computer-imaging--techniques that help us identify brain abnormalities. Information from 3-D computer models can help our neurosurgeons identify the exact location of a brain tumor and its relationship to adjacent parts of the brain. Armed with this detailed information, our neurosurgeons can operate with pinpoint accuracy, minimizing trauma to the skull and other brain structures. Neurosurgeons at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital often are able to remove tumors more completely than neurosurgeons who do not have this technology, while avoiding damage to the child's development and brain functions.

Functional Pediatric Neurosurgery

This emerging field of neurosurgery offers new hope to children with difficult to treat diseases--such as spasticity and dystonia. In functional pediatric neurosurgery, neurosurgeons implant drug pumps and electric current-producing stimulators to treat children with movement disorders. These approaches affect the function of the nervous system without injuring it, and eliminate the need to remove brain or spine tissue.

Deep brain stimulation--implantation of electric current producing stimulators in the brain--has only recently become widely available across the country for adults with movement disorders. In cooperation with the adult deep brain stimulation program at the University of Chicago, staffed by physicians who pioneered this treatment in adults, we are now offering this treatment to children.

A Team Approach to Care

Pediatric neurosurgeons here work closely with University of Chicago pediatric neurologists, oncologists, orthopaedic surgeons, and other specialists. Together, each child's medical team, including several nationally-known experts, creates a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan effectively coordinates the child's medical and surgical needs

Child life specialists and specially-trained pediatric nurses also play key roles in this team. The Child Life and Family Education program provides emotional support and education for children and their families at the bedside, in the clinic, and in our well-equipped and staffed playroom. Family support, food, and lodging are also available for some families at a Ronald McDonald House just a few blocks from the hospital.

Leaders in Research

Our pediatric neurosurgeons are national leaders in many areas of neuroscience research, including hydrocephalus, brain tumors, brain trauma, and congenital anomalies of the nervous system. A significant grant from the National Institutes of Health supports a research program on the effects of our current treatment strategies for hydrocephalus on cognitive function in children. This study, when completed, will define the very best available strategies for treating hydrocephalus based on a child's cognitive performance.

We also have research programs for the study of pediatric brain tumor treatment by molecular methods, and diagnostic and therapeutic options for children with Chiari malformation. Laboratory investigations into the application of molecular membrane repair as a novel approach to brain trauma are also ongoing.

Through these ongoing efforts to advance the field of neuroscience, our pediatric neurosurgeons bring the latest technical advances and diagnostic approaches to each and every child in their care.

Superior Outcomes

Our pediatric neurosurgeons are a core part of the University of Chicago Medicine’s neurosurgery program, which scores high on a key quality indicator. A recent report found that significantly fewer patients died after undergoing neurosurgical procedures at our medical center than statistical models predict based on the severity of patient cases. The University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Clinical Outcomes Report for July 2008 through June 2009 showed that the University of Chicago Medicine's risk-adjusted mortality rate was ranked second among 105 academic medical centers. In fact, the University of Chicago's observed-versus-expected mortality rate of 0.37 is about one-third the predicted rate of 1.0.

Since the last quarter of 2007, the observed-versus-expected mortality rates for neurosurgery procedures performed at the University of Chicago have been consistently better than the average, according to UHC data.

Learn more about our neurosurgical outcomes data