Pediatric Cerebrovacular Disorders

Vascular anomalies in children are rare but can cause significant disabilities that may affect a child’s ability throughout his or her life. The abnormalities described below require specialists in pediatric neurosurgery, neurology, and neuroradiology. Particularly complex cases are discussed during a weekly Cerebrovascular Disease conference where the opinions of many physicians can be at one time and a consensus recommendation reached.

Pediatric Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMS)

AVMs are the most common cause of spontaneous brain hemorrhage in children and can lead to major neurological problems. Although the developing nervous system is vulnerable to injury, it can also rapidly adapt by assigning function to alternate areas of the brain. This phenomenon is known as neural plasticity and allows children with AVMs to recover more quickly than adults after surgery. Surgical procedures for pediatric AVMs are done in conjunction with neurointerventional radiologists who perform preoperative AVM embolization – closure of large AVM vessels through a small catheter threaded into a major artery in the leg.

Pediatric Stroke

Stroke is exceedingly rare in children and requires a multidisciplinary team to treat the many potential morbidities associated with it. Hemorrhagic stroke, characterized by bleeding in the brain, may be caused by an underlying malformation or aneurysm in the brain and may require surgery. The pediatric cerebrovascular team includes neurologist and pediatric stroke expert Heather Fullerton MD, who has expertise in recognizing the symptoms of stoke in children and identifying effective treatment for each one. Dr. Fullerton is one of only a few neurologists in the United States specializing in pediatric stroke. Read an interview with Dr. Fullerton on diagnosing and treating pediatric stroke at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital: Treating Pediatric Stroke

Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s story about Dr. Fullerton’s work with pediatric stroke patients: 

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

For lesions affecting the vasculature that are inoperable, or for pediatric patients who cannot tolerate surgery, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery provides a noninvasive option that delivers high-dose radiation directly to the abnormality while sparing surrounding brain tissue from unnecessary injury. 

Interventional Neuroradiology

UCSF has one of the most experienced and talented team of neurointerventional radiologists in the country. The group has treated many pediatric patients with AVM’s, aneurysms, and more rare conditions such as Vein of Galen aneurysms and dural AV fistulas.