Neurological Treatments at Children's Hospital Colorado
Treatment for brain and spinal cord conditions can involve a combination of therapies, and may include surgery. Our skilled pediatric neurosurgeons are experienced in a number of less invasive surgeries, such as endoscopic procedures done through smaller incisions with specially designed instruments. Rehabilitation is also a key part of your child’s treatment, helping to maintain or regain skills or function that can be reduced during the illness. Treatments can include:
Clinical Drug Trials
With your physician’s guidance, you may choose for your child to participate in clinical trials because you have exhausted standard treatment options – which either did not work for them, or they were unable to tolerate certain side effects. Clinical trials may provide another option when standard therapy has failed.
The ketogenic diet, which is very high in fats and low in carbohydrates, was first developed almost 80 years ago. It makes the body burn fat for energy instead of glucose. When carefully monitored by a medical team familiar with its use, the diet helps two out of three children who are tried on it and may prevent seizures completely in one out of three. It is a strict diet, and takes a strong commitment from the whole family. The ketogenic diet is not a do-it-yourself diet. It is a serious form of treatment that, like other therapies for epilepsy, has some side effects that have to be watched for. More research is being done to learn about the underlying reasons for the diet's positive effect.
Neuroendoscopy describes the use of endoscopes to gain access to the brain, spine and peripheral nervous system allowing a "minimally invasive" approach to some lesions. Neuroendoscopy may be useful in the management of hydrocephalus, cystic lesions of the brain and spinal cord, tumors, vascular lesions, degenerative spine disease and nerve entrapments. Children's Hospital Colorado offers a variety of neuroendoscopic procedures employing state-of the-art neuroendoscopic instrumentation and techniques.
Radiosurgery treats brain disorders with a precise delivery of a single, high dose of radiation in a one-day session. Focused radiation beams are delivered to a specific area of the brain to treat abnormalities, tumors or functional disorders. Radiosurgery has such a dramatic effect in the target zone that the changes are considered "surgical." Through the use of three-dimensional computer-aided planning and the high degree of immobilization, the treatment can minimize the amount of radiation that passes through healthy brain tissue. Radiosurgery is routinely used to treat brain tumors and lesions. It may be the primary treatment, used when a tumor is inaccessible by surgical means; or as a boost or adjunct to other treatments for a recurring or malignant tumor. In some cases, it may be inappropriate.
Seizure (or Epilepsy) surgery is a surgical operation to control seizures. There are currently three major categories of epilepsy surgery:
- Resective surgery; in which the part of the brain that causes partial-onset seizures is removed.
- Corpus callosotomy; in which the major connection between the two sides of the brain is severed (cut) in order to lessen the severity of some types of seizures.
- Vagus nerve stimulator; in which a small wire electrically stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck. This surgery is also performed to limit the severity of seizures.
Stereotactic surgery is a minimally-invasive form of surgical intervention which makes use of a three-dimensional coordinates system to locate small targets inside the body and to perform on them some action such as ablation (removal), biopsy, lesion, injection, stimulation, and implantation.
Surgery for Spasticity
Selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery is the only treatment which effectively and permanently reduces stiffness in the muscles of the lower extremities. The result is dramatic progress in motor skills in children with Cerebral Palsy, including standing, sitting and walking. Cerebral palsy, a common side-effect of extremely premature birth, is a result of damage to the area of the brain that controls muscle tone and movement in the arms and legs. The damage means the spinal cord dominates control of muscles, rather than sharing control with the brain, and as a result, the muscle is too stiff, or "spastic."