Department of Neurosurgery Overview

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Laser Therapy

Laser Ablation Epilepsy Treatment at Boston Children's

Boston Children’s Hospital is one of a handful of centers offering a new, minimally invasive laser therapy to remove tumors or diseased brain tissue that is too deep inside the brain to safely access with usual neurosurgical methods.

For more information or to schedule an evaluation, contact Joseph Madsen, MD, in the Department of Neurosurgery ( or 617-355-6008).

The Boston Globe reports on technological advancements in epilepsy surgery. Boston Children’s Joseph Madsen, MD, his patient Justin and a new surgical treatment for epilepsy at Boston Children’s are featured (subscription may be required).

The Department of Neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital

Learn about pediatric neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital.

Diseases and disorders of the brain, spine and nervous system often involve serious symptoms and call for complex surgical treatments.

Here at the Boston Children's Hospital Department of Neurosurgery, our neurosurgical specialists provide advanced clinical care with a focus on using minimally invasive techniques whenever possible.

If your child has been diagnosed with a condition requiring neurosurgery, our team of experienced and caring doctors, nurses and staff is ready to help.

Boston Children's Department of Neurosurgery works closely with other prominent Boston health care institutions—including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital—and features 12 subspecialty clinic.

Conditions we treat

Learn more about the conditions we treat

Our expertise


  • Boston Children’s Hospital was among the first hospitals in the world to focus on pediatric neurosurgery as an individual specialty. 

  • Our neurosurgery team includes surgeons, physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, imaging professionals, psychologists and social workers who work together to deliver integrated, personalized care for every child.

  • Our reputation for achievement; strengths in a rich assortment of subspecialties; commitment to minimally invasive surgical techniques; and prime location in Boston’s “health care hub” attract the world’s most skilled and accomplished medical and surgical professionals.

  • Boston Children’s is one of the only pediatric hospitals in the world to dedicate full clinical programs to rare, life-threatening conditions like Moyamoya disease.

  • Our doctors are involved in scientific research that offers new hope for children with brain, spine and nervous system disorders.

  • Boston Children’s has developed and refined some of the most influential advances in pediatric neurosurgery, including:

  • Linear accelerator radiosurgery, a highly efficient form of radiotherapy that targets tumors in the brain while minimizing damage to surrounding, healthy tissue

  • Introduction of a non-invasive device that measures subtle changes in children’s head size, enabling earlier diagnosis of craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly

  • Boston Children’s was the first pediatric hospital in the country to introduce Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in a neurosurgical operating room (OR). Our intraoperative MR allows doctors to view detailed, “real-time” images of the brain and spine while performing surgery.


Recent News


Warf receives grant from John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Benjamin Warf HydrocephalusBoston Children’s neurosurgeon Benjamin Warf, MD, has been named a 2012 MacArthur fellow, receiving a five-year, $500,000, “genius” award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Read more about Dr. Warf and his recent research on pediatric hydrocephalus—as well as the one-time, minimally invasive operation he developed in Africa and is sharing with colleagues at Boston Children’s and around the world.


Patient stories


As childhood strokes increase, surgeons aim to reduce risks

NPR’s “Morning Edition” features Boston Children’s Edward Smith, MD, in a story about Moyamoya and the journey of 13-year-old Boston Children’s patient Maribel Ramos.

UAE to Boston - Khalid's international journey

In December 2013, Mohammad and Hend Al Ansari, from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, found themselves in that rare group of parents. Doctors found a 6 cm tumor in the brain of their four-year-old son Khalid. The Al Ansari’s flew from Dubai to Boston so that Dr. Alan Cohen, neurosurgeon-in-chief could perform the operation to remove the tumor.

Stopping seizures with laser therapy

13-year-old Justin Griffin was suffering from weekly epileptic seizures due to an area of abnormal tissue in his brain. His seizures were not able to be controlled by taking medication and his family was looking for other options. Using recent advances in imaging technology, doctors were able to insert a laser into Justin's brain through a tiny hole in his skull and destroy the area that was causing his seizures.

Taylor's Story: A Brain Tumor with a Positive Outcome

Shortly after 10 year-old Taylor began having headaches, a CT scan revealed a brain tumor that her doctor thought could be cancerous. Taylor's mother Lori decided to bring Taylor to see Dr. Alan Cohen at Boston Children's Hospital for treatment. Watch the video to learn more about Taylor's amazing story.

Miles’ Story

Affecting about one in 2,500 children, craniosynostosis is a disease in which the bone plates in a baby’s head fuse too early. Untreated, this can lead to excess pressure in the skull and learning disabilities, in addition to cosmetic deformity. To learn more about craniosynostosis, its treatment and baby Miles' story, click here.


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Contact the Department of Neurosurgery

  • 617-355-6008
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO