Neurosurgery - Paediatric Neurosurgery
The Neurosurgical Unit at Alder Hey provides surgical treatment for brain and spine disorders both nationally and internationally for children up to the age of 18. The unit performs around 500 surgeries per year and sees almost 4000 out-patients.
The Neurosurgical Ward (NSW) is a 16 bedded unit, of which six beds can accommodate children requiring High Dependency care.
The ward cares for children who require neurosurgery for a variety of reasons including;
- Head injuries
- Surgical treatment of epilepsy
- Craniofacial abnormalities.
- Foetal Central Nervous System (CNS) Anomalies Clinic
Our Intra-operative 3-T MRI Scanner, the first of its kind in Europe
In October 2007 Alder Hey Children’s Charity received a donation of £3m from the Barclay Foundation to fund a 3-Tesla MRI scanner.
This high-resolution magnetic imaging combined with an adjacent state of the art theatre featuring BrainLab image guided navigation systems, enables scans to be carried out in the operating theatre during surgery. This provides the surgeon with highly accurate, real-time information used for navigation and updates on progress.
This is the first such installation dedicated to paediatrics in Europe and among many features will allow:
- Surgeons to safely and completely remove tumours – significantly increasing survival rates in brain tumour cases
- Much more precise surgery – minimising the potential side effects of operations where millimetres matter
- Reduction in time and number of times children have to be anaesthetised and operated on
- minimising the exposure to radiation in children who need multiple scans during their care and treatment
Other benefits of the Intra-operative 3-T MRI Scanner
- Epilepsy diagnosis and a possible surgical ‘cure’ for this debilitating condition
- The 3-Tesla magnet has already revealed tiny lesions on the brain of epilepsy patients not previously visible on a regular MRI scan. As well as identifying the lesion, the intra-operative facility will allow the neurosurgeon to navigate directly and microscopically to the lesion, remove it, and re-scan to ensure it has been fully removed.
The exceptionally high resolution of the 3-Tesla magnet is pushing new boundaries in research. Already Liverpool Women’s Hospital is conducting research on neonates and foetal imaging (using the 1.5T scanner) where a range of pre-birth abnormalities are diagnosed and referred for surgery on delivery. Academic institutions are exploring opportunities, such as researching mobility in cerebral palsy patients
Cardiac patients and those with shunts or bowel problems will benefit enormously, previously they may have had to be diagnosed through CT or Fluoroscopy which carry high radiation burdens or are invasive
Rheumatology patients require repeated imaging to monitor their condition, the increased capacity will allow more patients to be scanned, more often, thereby enhancing their treatment programme. Already Alder Hey is receiving referrals from all over the country to its acclaimed rheumatology service.
Patient Choice is driving activity at Alder Hey where decisions are made by parents on the basis of speed of access and convenience. This additional facility is expected to allow Radiology to reduce its MRI waiting times from 6 weeks to 2 weeks – one of the lowest in the country
Post Mortem imaging is occasionally clinically requested but increasingly this service is being requested by families who object to conventional post mortems on cultural grounds.
At a Glance – the Numbers
- 75 additional patients a year will benefit from epilepsy scanning
- At least one patient a week with a brain tumour will benefit from the new 3T intra-operative scanner
- 380 patients a year will benefit from having an MRI scan with no radiation dose instead of a CAT scan
- 275 patients will benefit from the waiting list for MRI scans being reduced down from 6 to 2 weeks
- 125 additional cardiac patients can be scanned