Department of Neurosurgery | Conditions and Treatments

Achondroplasia

Achondroplasia is a genetic bone disorder and the most common type of dwarfism. • Affects one in 20,000 babies • Arms and legs are short in proportion to body length and head is often large • The

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Anaplastic Astrocytoma

Overview Astrocytomas are tumors that arise from brain cells called astrocytes, which are a type of glial cell. An anaplastic astrocytoma is a high-grade (malignant) glioma, originating from the glial

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Aneurysms

Angiogram showing a high-resolution view of an aneurysm. Sometimes the wall of an artery in the brain develops a weak spot, and the vessel bulges outward. This is known as a cerebral aneurysm.

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Apert Syndrome

What is Apert Syndrome? Apert syndrome, also known as acrocephalosyndactyly, is a genetic disorder characterized by deformities of the skull, face and limbs. Apert syndrome may include:

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Arachnoid Cysts

Arachnoid cysts are fluid-filled collections between the brain or spinal cord and the arachnoid membrane, one of three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The cysts contain normal spinal

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Arterial Dissection

The Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center treats arterial dissection and other cerebrovascular conditions. An arterial dissection is a tear along the inside lining of an artery in the head,

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Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs)

The Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center treats arteriovenous fistulas and other cerebrovascular conditions. Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are rare abnormalities in which arteries connect

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Astrocytoma

An astrocytoma is a brain tumor that originates from star-shaped cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are a kind of glial cell, cells that support and nourish neurons in the brain. Like other kinds of

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Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)

Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs) are abnormal connections between arteries and veins that are congenital (present at birth). They don't have the normal network of tiny vessels (capillaries) that

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Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT)

Having a tumor in the brain or spinal cord is always a very serious matter. An atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor is an aggressive tumor of the central nervous system. If your child has been diagnosed

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Birth Defects and Congenital Anomalies

A birth defect is a health problem or a physical abnormality that a baby has at birth. It can be very mild or severe. Some birth defects are life-threatening, in which case a baby may only live for a

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Bowlegs

Children with bowlegs, when standing straight with toes pointed forward, have ankles that touch but knees that do not. Bowlegs is a condition involving the shin and thigh (tibia and femur) bones.

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Brachial plexus birth palsy

If your baby or child has been diagnosed with brachial plexus birth palsy (BPBP), we know that you and your family are worried about her future, and maybe even under some stress. So, please know that

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Brain Abscess

Overview A brain abscess is a brain infection that may cause problems with a child's brain and spinal cord function. The team at Boston Children's Hospital works quickly to identify a child's brain

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Brain arteriovenous malformations

The Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center treats arteriovenous malformations of the brain and other cerebrovascular conditions. Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are errors in blood vessel

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Cavernous malformations

The Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center treats cavernous malformations and other cerebrovascular conditions. A cavernous malformation (CM), also called a cavernoma, cavernous hemangiomas

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Brain Tumors

Today, more than 50 percent of all children diagnosed with a pediatric brain tumor will be cured of the disease. Tumors are masses of abnormal cells that can appear in all parts of the body and grow

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Branchial Cleft Remnant

A branchial cleft remnant is a birth defect that occurs in your child's neck. During the fifth week of fetal development, major head and neck structures are formed. The five pharyngeal arches (bands

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Capillary malformation

When you saw that your baby had a birthmark, you may have been concerned. But rest assured that birthmarks are very common in infants—and most of them are pretty harmless. A capillary malformation

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Cerebral Palsy (CP)

What is Cerebral Palsy? Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability of childhood. The term CP itself is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that affect body movement and posture

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Cervical Teratoma

Overview A cervical teratoma is a very rare congenital tumor in the neck. These tumors tend to be large, disfiguring masses — partly solid and partly fluid They make it impossible for a newborn to

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Chiari Malformation

What is Chiari malformation? Chiari malformation is an abnormality in the back of the head where the brain and spinal cord meet. It causes some of the brain tissue at the base of the skull to be

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Chondrosarcoma of the Head and Neck

Overview Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that resembles the cartilage that coats the ends of bones and forms joints. Chondrosarcoma occurs primarily in adults, are rarely encountered during the

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Choroid Plexus Brain Tumor

Choroid plexus brain tumors arise from the choroid plexus, tissue located in the spaces of the brain called ventricles. This tissue makes cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that surrounds the brain

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Cleft lip and cleft palate

"Here at Boston Children's Hospital, our training, experience and commitment to innovative care with compassion have made us a national leader in the care of children and adolescents with cleft lip

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CLOVES Syndrome

Overview In 2006, Boston Children’s Hospital interventional radiologist and Vascular Anomalies Center Co-Director Ahmad Alomari, MD, MSc, FSIR, discovered a very rare congenital (present at birth)

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Craniofacial Anomalies

Overview Craniofacial anomalies (CFA) are a diverse group of deformities in the growth of the head and facial bones. These abnormalities are congenital (present at birth). Some are mild and some are

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Craniopharyngioma

A craniopharyngioma is a tumor of the brain that commonly affects children. The tumor grows in the area of the pituitary gland and the optic nerves, and frequently grows up into the base of your child

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Craniosynostosis

What is craniosynostosis? Mark Proctor, MD - Chief, Department of Neurosurgery Craniosynostosis is a condition in which the fibrous joints, called sutures, between the bones of the skull grow together

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Crouzon Syndrome

What is Crouzon Syndrome? Crouzon syndrome, also known as craniofacial dysostosis, is a complex genetic birth disorder that may affect a child’s face, skull and teeth. In a child with this syndrome,

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Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome—the overproduction of corticosteroids—may be caused by an overproduction of cortisol (the hormone that controls the adrenal gland) by the pituitary gland. Other causes of Cushing’s

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Cysts and Sinuses of the Head and Neck

Overview Cysts and sinuses of the head and neck include a variety of soft, usually non-tender benign lumps or masses that are congenital (developed prior to birth) and are found below the skin

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Desmoid Tumor

A Desmoid tumor develops in the fibrous tissue that forms tendons and ligaments. most often it occurs in the arms, legs or midsection it can also occur in the head and neck desmoid tumor is also

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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumors found at the base of the brain. They are glial tumors, meaning they arise from the brain's glial

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Condition
Dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNT)

If your child has been experiencing seizures that don’t respond to medication, a possible cause may be a dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNT). This is a rare, benign type of tumor that occurs

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Encephaloceles

What is an encephalocele? An encephalocele is a rare birth defect in which the tissue covering the brain, and a portion of the brain itself, protrude through openings in the skull. It may be

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Ependymoma

Having a tumor in the brain or spinal cord is always a very serious matter. However, there are many distinct types of brain tumors that occur in children, and some types are highly curable.

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Epilepsy

Laser Therapy for Pediatric Epilepsy Boston Children’s Hospital is one of a handful of centers offering a new, minimally invasive laser therapy for childhood epilepsy to remove tumors or diseased

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Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma

Overview What is epithelioid hemangioendothelioma? Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a rare vascular tumor or anomaly that’s not widely understood. Some describe it as a type of cancer, and in

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Fibrosarcoma of the Head and Neck

Overview A fibrosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that originates in the connective tissue found at the ends of bones of the arm or legs-or in the head and neck-that then spreads to other surrounding soft

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Ganglioglioma

A ganglioglioma is low-grade tumor of mixed cell type. This type of tumor contains properties of both glial cells (responsible for providing the structural support of the central nervous system) and

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Genetic Disorders

Overview Genetic disorders include congenital malformations, chromosomal disorders and metabolic diseases, also known as inborn errors of metabolism. Some of the symptoms can be the same as those for

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Germinoma

Overview At Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we have already helped many infants, children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with a germinoma: a specific type of

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Germ Cell Tumors of the Brain

What is a germ cell tumor of the brain? Germ cell tumors of the brain develop when the sex cells that should normally form the ovaries or testes fail to migrate down and instead become “trapped” in

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Glioblastoma multiforme

Glioblastoma Multiformes (GBMs) are high-grade gliomas that arise from the brain’s supportive tissue, known as glial cells. These are aggressive tumors that rapidly infiltrate adjacent healthy brain

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Condition
Glioma

A glioma is a kind of brain tumor that originates from glial cells, which support and nourish neurons in the brain. Gliomas account for about 25 percent of childhood cancers, and most gliomas are both

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Condition
Gliomatosis Cerebri

Gliomatosis cerebri is a highly aggressive, rare form of malignant astrocytic tumor. It most commonly presents as a diffusely infiltrating glial tumor of the cerebral cortex. Glial means that it

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Head or Brain Injury

While some head injuries do cause serious and lasting damage, it’s important to remember that “head injury” is a broad term describing many different types of trauma—ranging from mild to severe. Here

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Hemangioma

Overview When you saw that your baby had a birthmark, you may have been concerned. But rest assured that birthmarks are very common in infants—and most of them are pretty harmless. Your doctor

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Hemangiopericytoma

Overview Hemangiopericytoma is a rare tumor that grows in the body’s soft tissue, which includes fat, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and other fibrous tissue. In a baby, this condition is

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Hydrocephalus

What is hydrocephalus? Hydrocephalus — also called “water on the brain” — is a term used to describe several different problems that cause fluid to build up in or around the brain or to drain

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Intraventricular Hemorrhage

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is bleeding inside or around the ventricles—spaces in the brain that contain the protective cerebral spinal fluid. IVH is most common in premature babies, especially

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Kabuki Syndrome

Kabuki syndrome is a rare congenital disorder, meaning that children are born with the condition. Children with Kabuki syndrome usually have distinctive facial features and mild to moderate mental

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Kawasaki Disease

If recognized and treated early, your child can begin to feel better in a few days, with a low likelihood of long-term heart issues. Children who receive treatment within the first ten days of illness

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Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome

Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome (KTS) is a rare congenital (present at birth) vascular anomaly that results in your child having a large number of abnormal blood vessels. No one knows the precise cause.

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Low Grade Gliomas

Low-grade gliomas are brain tumors that originate from glial cells, which support and nourish neurons in the brain. Glial tumors, or gliomas, are divided into four grades, depending on their cells'

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Condition
Macrodactyly

Macrodactyly is an uncommon condition in which a baby’s toes or fingers are abnormally large due to the overgrowth of the underlying bone and soft tissue. The condition is congenital, meaning babies

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Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor

Malignant rhabdoid tumor is a rare childhood tumor that commonly starts in the kidneys but also can occur in other soft tissues or in the brain, where it is referred to as atypical teratoid/rhabdoid

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Condition
Medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma is a brain tumor located in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance, coordination, and other complex motor functions. Medulloblastoma accounts for 15 to 20 percent

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Meningioma

A meningioma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor originating from the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas can occur in any age group. They affect 2 in 100,000 people, but are much

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Metopic Synostosis (Trigonocephaly)

Did you know that your baby’s skull isn’t a single, solid entity—it’s actually made up of several bony plates? Between those plates are fibrous joints called sutures. Normally, the sutures in a

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Movement disorders

Children with movement disorders have unwanted movements or trouble moving in the way they intend to. The term “movement disorders” is broad and includes a wide variety of conditions with a wide

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Moyamoya Disease

When we hear that someone has had, or is at risk for, a stroke, we tend to immediately picture an older person. “After all,” we may think, “a stroke is something our parents and grandparents might

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Nervous System Disorders

Overview The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities. It is made up of two major divisions: Central nervous system - consisting of the brain

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Neurofibrosarcoma

Neurofibrosarcoma, also known as peripheral nerve sheath tumor, is a malignant tumor that develops in the cells surrounding the peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves receive messages from the central

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Neurogenic Bladder

A common concern of parents whose children have been diagnosed with neurogenic bladder dysfunction is the question: “Will my child still be in diapers when he’s school age?” The short answer is: most

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Oligodendroglioma

An oligodendroglioma is a low-grade (relatively benign) tumor arising from a type of cell of the central nervous system known as an oligodendrocyte. Oligodendrocytes make up a supportive network for

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Optic Pathway Glioma

An optic pathway glioma (also called an optic nerve glioma) is a slow-growing brain tumor that arises in or around the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. As the tumor progresses, it

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Osteoblastoma

Osteoblastoma is a benign, bone-forming tumor that is extremely rare, accounting for only 1 percent of all primary bone tumors. Unlike most primary bone tumors, which favor the extremities,

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Pediatric epilepsy and seizure disorder

I think my child is having a seizure. What do I do? Epilepsy is a brain condition that makes a child susceptible to seizures. Seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain: Some parts

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Pfeiffer Syndrome

What is Pfeiffer Syndrome? Pfeiffer syndrome is a complex genetic disorder in which certain bones in the skull fuse (join together) early in their development. This prevents the skull from growing

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Robin Sequence

What is Robin Sequence? Robin sequence, also known as "Pierre Robin sequence", is a combination of birth defects that usually includes: A small lower jaw (mandible) A tongue that is positioned further

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Plagiocephaly

What is plagiocephaly? Plagiocephaly (sometimes called deformational plagiocephaly or positional plagiocephaly) is a very common, very treatable disorder. It causes a baby’s head or face to have a

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Pilocytic Astrocytoma

A pilocytic astrocytoma is a brain tumor that originates from star-shaped cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are a kind of glial cell, cells that support and nourish neurons in the brain. An

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Pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma

A pleomorphic xanthoastrocytomas (PXA) is a rare tumor thought to arise from a type of cell of the central nervous system known as a glial cell. These tumors likely originate from a specific type of

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Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET)

Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET) form a group of tumors defined by their appearance that are thought to develop from primitive (undifferentiated) nerve cells in the brain. They are rare tumors

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Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer of the eye. It arises from the retina, the nerve tissue in the back of the eye that is sensitive to light. Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment, more

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Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that grows in the body's soft tissues (which connect, support or surround organs and other body structures), particularly in the muscles that attach to bone and

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Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome

Overview Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by the premature fusion of certain skull bones, which prevents the skull from growing normally and affects the shape of the head

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Schwannoma (Neurilemoma)

Schwannoma, also called neurilemoma, is a benign tumor that can arise from any nerve in the body, although it tends to favor certain nerves located in the head and neck along with nerves that are

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Spina Bifida

Between 1,400 and 2,000 babies are born with spina bifida in the U.S. each year—but not all of these children have the same needs. Our Spina Bifida Center develops treatment plans customized to meet

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Spinal Fracture

A spinal cord fracture is a break to the cervical, thoracic and/or lumbar vertebrae. The spinal column is made up of many individual bony rings called vertebrae, joined together by muscles and

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Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord serves not just one critical function, but several. A compact but extremely powerful package of nerves, it works with the brain to transmit important messages that are responsible for

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Scoliosis

If your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis may have questions about her treatment. The caregivers in the Boston Children’s Hospital Spinal Program have treated many children with scoliosis and

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Tectal Gliomas

A tectal glioma is a low-grade, slow-growing brain tumor in the tectum, the roof of the brain stem. The brain stem controls vital body functions such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

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Condition
Teratoma

A teratoma is a congenital (present prior to birth) tumor formed by different types of tissue. Teratomas in newborns are generally benign and don't spread. They can, however, be malignant, depending

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Tethered Spinal Cord

What is a tethered spinal cord? A tethered spinal cord occurs when the spinal cord is attached to tissue around the spine, most commonly at the base of the spine. As a result, the spinal cord can’t

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Thalamic Astrocytoma and Hypothalamic Astrocytoma

A brain tumor is always a very serious matter, and a thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytoma is no exception. A thalamic/hypothalamic astrocytoma is a low-grade, slow-growing glioma (brain tumor) that

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Toxoplasmosis

Overview Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite, and it's usually acquired by the parasite getting into the body by the mouth (for instance, by eating undercooked meat). If the parasite

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Vascular Malformations, Tumors, and Hemangiomas

Vascular malformations, tumors and hemangiomas all refer to a variety of non-cancerous birthmarks and lesions. Boston Children's Hospital is home to internationally renowned physicians for their

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Vein of Galen Malformations

One family's story Through the nonprofit Partners in Health, 4-month-old Rolensky of Haiti came to Boston Children’s with heart failure caused by a large vein of Galen malformation (VOGM) deep in his

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Venous Malformation

Overview We know it can be hard to hear that your child has a venous malformation (VM). But at Boston Children’s Hospital, we view the diagnosis as a starting point: Now we’re able to begin the

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Ventriculomegaly

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we’ve already helped many infants who have been diagnosed with fetal ventriculomegaly, a condition in which the fluid-filled spaces in the brain (ventricles) appear

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Periventricular Leukomalacia

Benjamin C. Warf, MD, director of Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital At Boston Children’s Hospital, our specialists have already helped many infants diagnosed

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Angiogram

Angiogram is a minimally invasive test that uses a special contrast solution (dye) and imaging technology to map the arterior veins in a part of your child's body. A cerebral angiogram maps the blood

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Brain PET/CT

Brain Positron Emission Tomography — also called a brain PET/CT scan — is a safe, effective and non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique that provides highly detailed images of the brain. A brain PET

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Brain Scan

A brain Scan is a diagnostic imaging technique that provides images of blood flow in the brain. It can detect changes in blood flow within the brain that cannot be seen with other imaging methods. How

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Deep Brain Stimulation

Boston Children’s Hospital is now offering deep brain stimulation (DBS) for children with primary dystonia, a type of movement disorder in which faulty brain signals cause involuntary muscle

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Embolization

Embolization is a minimally invasive, image guided treatment that involves injecting a special material or a device into a blood vessel in order to block or close it. It can be used to: stop or

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Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous laser ablation is a minimally invasive technique used for treating some types of vascular malformations. An interventional radiologist, using image guidance, inserts a catheter into the

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Intrathecal baclofen therapy

Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) therapy is a treatment option for children with severe spasticity (tight, stiff muscles that make movement difficult or uncontrollable) or secondary dystonia (involuntary

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MRI with Anesthesia

MRI is a routine diagnostic imaging exam that uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce 2- and 3-dimensional images of the body's organs, tissues, and bones. An MRI scan is: Often

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Radiosurgery

In stereotactic radiosurgery, a neurosurgeon focuses beams of high-energy radiation on a child's tumor or malformation while leaving the nearby tissues unaffected. Three tools that can be used to

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Treatment
PHACE Syndrome

PHACE was recognized as a condition relatively recently. PHACE (sometimes also called PHACE association, PHACES syndrome, PHACES association or Pascual-Castroviejo type II syndrome) is an associated

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Childhood Cancers

While childhood cancer is a potentially life-threatening condition requiring intensive treatment, the majority of pediatric cancers are treatable. Thanks to recent advances in therapies, many forms of

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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