Research and Innovation

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Research in the Urology Department at Boston Children's Hospital

Research in our department currently focuses on prenatal hydronephrosis, vesicoureteral reflux, adolescent varicocele, bladder exstrophy, human factors that influence clinical outcomes, hypospadias, undescended testicles, disorders of sex development and new surgical techniques and procedures employing robot-assisted surgery.

In addition, Boston Children's Pediatric Urology Department is at the forefront of laboratory investigation and offers several specialty clinics, such as the bladder exstrophy program, the voiding improvement program (VIP), and the perinatal urology program.

We also have a robust program in basic science research, involving tissue engineering, proteomics, and bladder smooth muscle physiology.


Innovations in Health Services Research

The care a child receives depends in large part on the healthcare facility. Our group seeks to improve the quality, safety, and effectiveness of medical and surgical treatment of children with urological conditions.  We use a wide range of tools, from analysis of large national healthcare databases to hands-on, practical initiatives to enhance safety and quality within children’s hospitals.

Recent findings:

  • The use and quality of radiation-intensive imaging studies varies widely among treatment centers, resulting in highly variable radiation exposure in children.
  • Radiation exposure during kidney stone surgery can be reduced up to 80% with the use of a radiation safety checklist.
  • Children with conditions ranging from kidney reflux to undescended testicles receive widely varying treatments, depending on the hospital or facility at which they are seen.
  • In general, quality of pediatric urology care appears to be higher at high-volume specialty pediatric centers.
Patient and family satisfaction is a key component of healthcare quality. With this in mind, our group has designed a number of projects to measure and enhance the satisfaction of families with the care provided. These projects include a rigorous measurement of satisfaction during genitourinary imaging tests, assessment of family satisfaction with both surgical and post-operative care after minor surgery such as circumcision, creation of educational tools for parent education after outpatient surgery, and comprehensive study of clinic operations to minimize family wait times during urology clinics.

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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