Department of Neurosurgery | News

Syrian refugee’s baby born with brain outside her skull survives surgery

CBC News reports that a five-month-old girl born with her brain growing outside her skull is recovering in a Winnipeg hospital after lengthy surgery being called a "miracle" by her mother - a Syrian refugee who settled in the city just over a year ago. The infant has the neural tube defect encephalocele, which causes all or part of the brain to protrude through an opening in the skull. Boston Children’s Neurosurgeon-in-Chief Mark Proctor, MD, provides expert insight on the condition.

Inspiring battle of girl, 9, who has suffered 2 brain aneurysms, a massive stroke and 5 open brain surgeries - but still keeps up with her twin sister who is illness-free

The Daily Mail tells the inspiring story of Boston Children’s Hospital’s patient Amanda LePage, who at age 9 has undergone five brain surgeries. Amanda was just five months old when she suffered her first brain aneurysm and her mother credits Boston Children’s Hospital’s Edward Smith, MD, for saving her daughter’s life. In the article, Smith explains the complexities of brain aneurysms in infants.  

Pinpointing where seizures are coming from, by looking between the seizures reports that Boston Children’s Hospital has developed a computational approach, described in the journal Neurosurgery, that could enable more patients with epilepsy to benefit from surgery when medications do not help. The approach uses a technology developed by Boston Children’s Hospital’s director of Epilepsy Surgery, Joseph Madsen, MD, that streamlines the seizure monitoring process required for surgical planning, making surgery a more feasible and less risky option for patients.

Baby born with hole in skull 'exceeding expectations' after Boston surgery

WCVB-TV reports on Lynkin Bell; an animated baby girl who loves -- and gets -- the attention of everyone around her. The little girl is so lively, it's almost impossible to believe this happy 14-month-old from Texas was referred to hospice care just one year ago. Lynkin was born with a rare defect called an encephalocele and came to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment after doctors in her home state said she wouldn’t survive. One of Lynkin’s doctors, Mark Proctor, MD, is interviewed for the story. 

Life-changing surgery helps teen with brain abnormality realize gymnastic dream

Shannon Dean is finally a happy tumbling, dancing ball of energy and her family credits Boston Children’s Hospital for making her dream of becoming a gymnast come true. Shannon was born with Chiari Malformation, a developmental abnormality in her brain, leaving her barely able to walk. Boston Children’s Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, Mark Proctor, MD, tells WBZ-TV channel 4 about this intricate brain surgery.

Saturday benefit marks baby Bentley Yoder's first birthday

While a first birthday is always a big occasion, the parents of Bentley "Beni" Yoder believe their son's life is nothing short of a miracle. Just five months ago Beni, born with an encephalocele, underwent a life-saving, seven-hour surgery led by Boston Children’s John Meara, MD, DMD, and Mark Proctor, MD. Sierra Yoder told the New Philadelphia Times Reporter that Boston Children's got bombarded with parents who found Bentley's story and wanted to reach out to Boston to see if their babies had a chance as well.

Baby thriving despite condition thought incompatible with life
Add to the growing list of national news outlets reporting on Boston Children’s Hospital’s patient Bentley Yoder, born with a large portion of functional brain tissue outside of his skull. After being told he wouldn’t survive birth, the baby flourished and his parents decided to seek a second opinion at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team of John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA and Mark Proctor, MD, used 3-D imaging to successfully operate on the infant who is now back home in Ohio. Boston Magazine, Inside Edition,, Hospitals & Health Networks,, The New Zealand Herald via The Washington Post.

‘We had no hope’: The amazing story of the baby born with his brain outside his skull
The Washington Post reports on Bentley Yoder of Ohio, a baby born with a large portion of functional brain tissue outside of his head. After being told he wouldn’t survive birth, the baby flourished and his parents decided to seek a second opinion at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team of John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA and Mark Proctor, MD, successfully operated on the infant who is now back home and continuing to thrive. 

Saving Bentley’s brain: Daring surgery aims to fix a gaping hole in baby’s skull
STAT tells the story of Bentley Yoder who was diagnosed with an encephalocele at his 22-week ultrasound and deemed “incompatible with life.” The little boy proved doctors wrong and thrived, doing everything a baby should be doing. His parents searched for answers which led them to Boston Children’s Hospital’s craniofacial program and John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, and Mark Proctor, MD. Guided by 3D models of the infant’s skull and brain, the team performed a tricky but successful surgery to correct Bentley’s encephalocele.

Simulation center aids surgeons, medical teams
USA Today features Boston Children's Simulator Program - one of the most extensive simulations practices in the world - and the newly unveiled Simulation Center which allows clinicians and teams to practice their skills and support families. Boston Children's Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, speaks about the importance of medical simulation and describes his first experience with simulation.  Edward Smith, MD, discusses his use of 3D modeling to plan for and practice complex procedures, and says that the advent of 3D models and simulated surgeries has advanced the ability to do things that couldn't be done before.

Texas baby given hope after arrival at Boston Children’s Hospital
WCVB-TV reports on Lynkin Bell, a baby from Texas diagnosed with a large encephalocele that was thought to be inoperable. The infant was sent home with hospice care but instead of deteriorating, the little girl thrived. Seeking a second opinion, Lynkin’s parents turned to Boston Children’s Hospital’s John G. Meara, MD, DMD, MBA and Mark Proctor, MD who assured the family that the encephalocele could be removed. Surgery was a success and the family is back at their home in Texas. 

10-year-old violinist performs alongside neurosurgeon who removed her brain tumor shares a Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s video tracing the journey of a young Vermont girl diagnosed with a brain tumor after she couldn’t finish a holiday concert last year because of a bad headache. also shared the story.

A year later, a Christmas concert of hope and cheer
A year ago, on the day before surgery to remove a brain tumor, Sophie Fellows’s fellow young violinists came to Boston Children’s Hospital to help her finish a holiday concert she couldn’t complete because of a headache. On Friday, the violinists were back, The Boston Globe reports, to perform again – this time in celebration of Sophie’s recovery and to give hope to today’s patients. And Liliana Goumnerova, MD. Sophie’s neurosurgeon, accompanied them on piano for the last piece. WCVB-TV, WBZ-TV, WHDH-TV, and Fox 25 are among the other outlets that covered the event.

Brain Power: 3D Printing is a New Tool for Thinking
A column in WIRED describes Boston Children's Edward Smith, MD,'s use of 3D printing to prepare for the challenge of complicated neurosurgeries. Days in advance, hospital techs use standard imaging to print a high-resolution copy of a child's brain and then Smith will examine it, slowly developing a nuanced, tactile feel for the challenge and rehearse the surgery as many times as he wants. During the operation, Smith keeps the printed brain next to him for reference.

With help from Hollywood, BCH program revamps surgical trainers
MedTech Boston reports that at the recent Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit, the hospital’s pediatric simulator program (SIMPeds) displayed two uncanny additions to its family of surgical trainers - two new ultra-real simulators, where the visual and tactual details are unprecedentedly accurate. ​The first model, which replicates the neck and upper chest of an infant, allows surgeons to simulate putting a child on ECMO, a form of partial cardiopulmonary bypass. The second model, which replicates an adolescent male’s skull and brain, helps neurosurgeons practice an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), used to treat hydrocephalus.

Boston Children’s Teams Up with Hollywood FX Firm for Surgical Simulation
MedGadget reports on the new collaboration between Boston Children's Simulator Program and Hollywood special effects firm Fractured FX to help teams of clinicians practice putting neonates on cardiopulmonary bypass and do endoscopic third ventriculostomies for treating hydrocephalus. Both procedures require considerable practice in order to avoid potential damage to the patients, but practice itself is dangerous and hard to come by.​ The collaboration has produced two new simulators that represent the relevant anatomy with impressive quality, featuring the look and feel of real tissue, blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and response from the simulator that can be expected in practice. ​

Horror flick special FX team takes surgery from red peppers to OR simulation
Forbes reports opportunities to practice a surgical procedure or improve real-time responses to complex or rare medical situations are growing. At Boston Children’s Hospital the concept of allowing clinicians to rehearse difficult medical procedures- reducing risk to patients and improving outcomes – is now a reality. The Simulation Program at Boston Children’s Hospital has partnered with Fractured FX to make ultra-realistic patients for operating rooms where providers can train with human-like simulators made of silicone-covered torsos, hand-sculpted and molded muscles and blood vessels filled with mock tissue and fluids.

Spine surgeon leader to know: Dr. Benjamin Warf of Boston Children's Hospital
Becker’s Spine Review highlights Boston Children’s Ben Warf, MD, as a leader to know in the field of spinal surgery.

There’s nothing Pop Warner QB Haylee Joudrey can’t tackle
The Boston Globe reports on 9-year-old Boston Children’s Hospital patient, Haylee Joudrey, who is the quarterback of her Pop Warner football team. Haylee was diagnosed in 2014 at Boston Children’s with a Chiari malformation and scoliosis. Mark Proctor, MD, and John Emans, MD, who both treat Haylee, provide insight on her diagnoses and how she continues to be a kid and play the sport she loves.

Children with complex medical needs often seek care elsewhere
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on Eleanor Cherry, a little girl who had a stroke the week before Thanksgiving and, in March, had surgery to fix the brain defect that caused the stroke, a rare malformation called Moyamoya disease. Boston Children’s Ed Smith, MD, who performed the surgery, is mentioned in the article. 

3D-printed models of children's brain anatomy help reduce operative risk of complex procedures
Medical Net News reports Boston Children's Hospital physicians report the first cases of children benefiting from 3D printing of their anatomy before undergoing high-risk brain procedures. The children all had life-threatening cerebrovascular malformations (abnormalities in the brain's blood vessels) that posed special treatment challenges.  The use of 3D printing and synthetic resins to create custom, high-fidelity models of the children's vessel malformations along with nearby normal blood vessels, allowed the surgeons to rehearse the cases beforehand and reduce operative risk.  Boston Children’s Hospital’s Ed Smith, MD, was quoted in the article. This research was also highlighted in a blog post.

9-year-old boy with spina bifida doesn't let 20 surgeries slow him down

A Boston Children’s Hospital’s Thriving blog was picked up nationally by Fox  The blog featured  9 year-old Tyler Bois, diagnosed with two conditions that affect his brain and spinal cord, yet he has not let either diagnosis or the 20 surgeries he’s had prevent him from dreaming big. The Bois family relocated to Vermont when Tyler was 1 and transferred his care to Boston Children’s Spina Bifida Center, where his surgeries have taken place under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Scott and Dr. Ben Warf

Doctors can study 3D printed models of your organs before surgery
Smithsonian reports on the use of 3D printed models to assess the condition of organs prior to and during surgeries. Boston Children’s Joseph Madsen, MD, is interviewed for the article

Tranexamic acid reduces blood loss in craniofacial surgery reports on new research from Boston Children’s Hospital that found the important evidence of the benefits of Tranexamic acid for use in craniosynostosis surgery.  Boston Children’s Mark R. Proctor, MD, was the study’s co-author was interviewed for the article.  

3D printing helps give girl a new face
CBC's The National features Boston Children's Simulator Program and interviews Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, about the program and the tremendous value of medical simulation. Edward Smith, MD, and John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, speak about their use of the Simulator Program's 3D printing service and experiences with two patients whose complex anatomy was printed on the 3D printer. An online news piece accompanies the CBC video, describing the Simulator Program and patient stories.

3-D Printers Help Doctors Prep for Complex Surgeries
3-D printing is taking a doctor’s preparation for surgery to new levels. The Boston Globe chronicles how Dr. Joseph Madsen, neurosurgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, used the groundbreaking technology to prepare for one of his patients. 

Violinist who captured hearts recovers after brain surgery
January 8, 2015 - Sophie Fellows, the young Vermont girl who played in a hospital concert just a day before brain surgery, is recovering in Boston and playing her violin again, WCVB-TV reports.

Boston Children’s Hospital testing epileptic seizure-detecting watch
December 17, 2014 - Epilepsy is a tough condition to live with and, despite treatment, many patients often still have seizures.  Boston Children’s Hospital’s Tobias Loddenkemper, MD, was featured on WBZ-TV News talking about  a newly developed “seizure watch.” The watch is designed to sense rapid arm movements and increased sweat production, that a patient undergoing a gran mal seizure might experience.

Doctor turns to 3D printers in a race to save a toddler's mind
September 3, 2014 - The Verge features the 3D printing service from Boston Children's Simulator Program and tells the story of an infant whose brain was replicated by the hospital's 3D printer and practiced on by Joseph Madsen, MD, prior to his operation. Madsen tells the Verge a hemispherectomy is one of the most challenging operations in pediatric epilepsy surgery and says the simulation made a big difference. Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, director of the Simulator Program, says within a year of its inception his team has printed close to 100 models – 20 percent of which have made their way into operating rooms.

3D Printing Helps Doctors in Brain Surgery on Southington Teenager
The Hartford Courant (subscription required) explains how 3D printing helped save the life of Adam Stedman, a 16-year-old from Southington, CT. Adam had a delicate cranial neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital to repair a rare arteriovenous malformation. A 3D model of Adam's brain was used by Boston Children’s neurosurgeon, Edward Smith, MD, in pre-surgery training. Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, director the Boston Children's Hospital simulator program is quoted in the article.

Surgeons Get 'Dress Rehearsals' with 3D-Printed Body Parts
August 27, 2014 - ABC News features Boston Children's Simulator Program and its 3D printing service which allows doctors to practice performing complex surgeries on one-of-a-kind patients before ever entering the operating room. Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, tells ABC his team has printed about 100 body parts over the last year and demand is growing. Edward Smith, MD, says a surgery that was supposed to take five or six hours wound up taking 2 hours and 20 minutes after practicing on the replicas that had been printed of a 15-year-old patient with an abnormal cluster of veins above his optical nerve.

Dressed to Detect
July 9, 2014 - Nature reports on wearable biometric devices that monitor seizures and promise improvements in epilepsy treatments and research, in a special supplement on epilepsy. Boston Children’s Tobias Loddenkemper, MD, who is currently running a trial utilizing a prototype of a wearable biometric device, provides expert comment.

New research aims to impact pediatric brain cancer
May 21, 2014 - 1011-TV in Lincoln, NE reports that Nebraskans have helped the Team Jack Foundation (named for Boston Children’s patient Jack Hoffman) raise more than $1 million for pediatric brain cancer research. The Foundation is excited about a research prototype they hope will be a game changer for kids battling pediatric brain cancer. Hoffman’s neurosurgeon, Boston Children’s Liliana Goumnerova, MD says the goal is to get as much of a brain tumor out of a child as possible.

D-R’s Kyle Arieta provides example of strength
April 4, 2014 - ESPN reports Boston Children’s patient and high school football and track and field star Kyle Arieta fell ill suddenly due to a non-malignant brain tumor last year. After suffering hemorrhaging of his pituitary gland, doctors performed emergency surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. A year later, Arieta is back on the football field playing with his high school team and was recently invited by the New England Patriots to a special day at Gillette Stadium with the team. The story was also reported by The Taunton Gazette.

Visualizing data to help epilepsy patients
March 28, 2014 - A RENCI-led project puts patient and EMR data at clinicians' fingertips in visual formats to improve treatments for epilepsy. 

W. Pa. infant home after life-saving brain surgery
January 14, 2014 - A five-week old baby is home in western Pennsylvania after having life-saving surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to correct a brain defect, according to The Washington Times (via AP).  Boston Children’s Mark Proctor, MD, who conducted the surgery, says the baby has a “long road ahead” but is gratified his parents are able to hold, cuddle and feed him normally.

Boston Children's Hospital Welcomes New Epilepsy Chief
January, 2014 - Boston Children’s Hospital today announced Phillip L. Pearl, MD, has joined the institution’s Department of Neurology as chief of the Division of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.  Pearl, who succeeds Blaise Bourgeois, MD as chief, also will serve as professor of neurology and William G. Lennox Chair at Harvard Medical School. 

Past News Stories


Medical Mysteries: What did the boy’s echo reveal?

June 17, 2013 - Help solve the diagnostic puzzle of 4-month-old Rolensky of Haiti, whose heart seemed to be failing—yet showed no visible cardiac abnormality. As described in The Boston Globe, the decision to place the echo probe on his head rather than his heart led to the right solution.

High-tech imagery helps surgeons combat Epilepsy

April 8, 2013 - The Boston Globe - After nearly seven hours of preparation, Dr. Joseph Madsen turned on the laser at Boston Children’s Hospital that would burn a tiny hole in the brain of 13-year-old Justin Griffin. The laser was on for only a minute, but scored a direct hit on the area Madsen thought was causing Justin’s weekly epileptic seizures. Twice more the surgeon pulsed the laser, and then concluded the operation was a success: The left hippocampus of Justin’s brain had been effectively destroyed and with it the catalyst for the boy’s disruptive seizures.

Seven-year-old Jack Hoffman, battling brain cancer, has spent a lot of time in Boston

April 8, 2013 - Boston magazine reports Jack Hoffman, the seven-year-old brain cancer patient who gained national attention after making a touchdown during the Nebraska Husker’s spring football game, is a favorite patient of some Boston doctors. Boston Children’s neurosurgeon Liliana Goumnerova, MD, operated on Hoffman after doctors discovered an aggressive brain tumor following a series of excessive seizures. Hoffman frequently returns to Boston for treatment as he battles cancer.

Toddler's Brain, Eye Pierced by Pencil, Survives Freak Accident

January 25, 2013 - ABC News reports on a medical miracle at Boston Children’s Hospital that saved a 19-month-old girl who fell on a pencil. Darren Orbach, MD led the medical team.

Rainfall, brain infection linked in sub-Saharan Africa

January 4, 2013 - The amount of rainfall affects the number of infant infections leading to hydrocephalus in Uganda, according to a team of researchers from Boston Children’s led by neurosurgeon Benjamin Warf, MD, who are the first to demonstrate that these brain infections are linked to climate.

As childhood strokes increase, surgeons aim to reduce risks

December 10, 2012 - National Public Radio tells the story of 13-year-old Maribel Ramos, a girl with moyamoya disease who underwent pial synangiosis, giving her brain a new blood supply.

Lexington neurosurgeon, 54, earns ‘genius grant’

October 1, 2012 - The Boston Globe reports that Boston Children’s Ben Warf, MD, has been named a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, one of four Boston-area recipients of the “genius grant.” The award comes with a $500,000 stipend, and, for Warf, visibility for hydrocephalus - a global health problem that he said has been “way under the radar.” The New York Times,’s “Culture Desk” blog and Harvard Gazette also report on the award.

Mark Proctor, MD appears in The Boston Globe's Health Answers

March 5, 2012 - Boston Children's pediatric neurosurgeon Mark Proctor, MD answered a reader's question about plagiocephaly in The Boston Globe.  The question and answer also appeared on

A urine test for brain tumors and CVD?

January 19, 2011 - Ed Smith, MD, is seeking “biomarkers” that show up in urine and can be used to tell whether a brain tumor is coming back, without having to bring the child in for imaging. Smith is now extending this research to monitoring moyamoya disease, arteriovenous malformations and more.