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Watch neurosurgeon Benjamin Warf explain his new treatment for pediatric hydrocephalus
Sixty years ago, Boston Children's Hospital became the first hospital in the world to treat children with hydrocephalus by rerouting excess fluid from the brain into another body cavity (in a process known as shunting).
In the years since, physicians in Boston Children's Hydrocephalus Program have:
A new approach to brain surgery for hydrocephalus offers an alternative to the standard treatment of installing a shunt. Learn how Boston Children's neurosurgeon Benjamin Warf, MD, is working to change the delivery of care for children with hydrocephalus.
Approximately one in 500 infants are born with hydrocephalus or acquire it shortly after birth.
The condition can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life.
It can result from congenital defects, injury, infection or tumors.
Pressure in the skull can lead to headaches, irritability, vomiting, loss of motor function and seizures.
In young children, the sutures between the skull have not yet fused. Increased pressure can cause a rapid increase in head size or bulging.
Boston Children's Hospital's Hydrocephalus Program treats children with every form of hydrocephalus—the all-encompassing term used to describe any increase in the volume of cerebrospinal fluid within, or surrounding, the brain.
Regardless of the particular circumstances of a child's hydrocephalus, safely and quickly diverting the excess fluid is essential.
Here in our Pediatric Hydrocephalus Program, our Specialists:
use a variety of sophisticated diagnostic procedures—including ultrasounds, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and intracranial pressure monitoring—to make and confirm a diagnosis of hydrocephalus
refer families of infants diagnosed with hydrocephalus in the womb to our Advanced Fetal Care Center for further evaluation and treatment recommendations
work closely with other experts across Boston Children's—including genetic counselors, imaging specialists and social workers—to meet all of your child's needs, including treatment for other related conditions like spinal cord tumors
have many years experience performing shunt placements and endoscopic third ventriculostomy procedures for safe, effective fluid drainage and diversion
Our Hydrocephalus Program clinicians are also engaged in important scientific research with great promise for better understanding, treatment and—one day—prevention of hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders. Some of our current research projects include:
Warf receives grant from John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Boston 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.
Hydrocephalus: Tackling a global health problem
Benjamin Warf, MD, testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. John Mugamba, MD, whom Warf trained and who is currently medical director at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda, gave testimony in video form. Learn about Dr. Warf's work with hydrocephalus.
Building neurosurgical care in the heart of Africa: One doctor's story
In 2000, Benjamin Warf sold his house and a small farm in Kentucky and left his position as Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Kentucky.
After giving away most of their possessions, Warf, his six children, and his wife boarded a plane for Uganda, believing they were leaving the United States for good. Read more about building neurosurgical care in the heart of Africa.
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.”