January 09, 2020
This week we are spotlighting the Department of Pediatric Surgery. Led by Dr. Kevin Lally, the department is home to 33 surgeons (12 shared with other departments), five research faculty, as well as 10 physician assistants, seven nurse practitioners, four perfusionists, three fellows, six research residents, 75 staff, and a physical therapist. The department’s goal is simple but lofty – to become one of the top five children’s surgical programs in the United States.
Six divisions are led by the following chiefs: General and Thoracic Pediatric Surgery, KuoJen Tsao, MD; Pediatric Acute Care Practitioners, Lisa Sansalone, CPNP-AC; Pediatric Neurosurgery, David Sandberg, MD; Pediatric Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery, Matthew Greives, MD; Pediatric Congenital Heart Surgery, Jorge Salazar, MD; and Pediatric Urology, Lawrence Cisek, MD. The department works closely with pediatric specialists from other departments, including Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Alfred Mansour, MD; Pediatric Otolaryngology, Soham Roy, MD; and Pediatric Anesthesia, Maria Matuszczak, MD.
The department serves its patients across Houston-area hospitals, including Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, LBJ General Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Southwest, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands (telemedicine), Memorial Hermann Memorial City, Woman’s Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital, and Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Faculty and staff provide outpatient care at the UT Professional Building, LBJ General Hospital, One Fannin Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Memorial City, The Woodlands Neurosurgery Clinic, UT Physicians Pearland, Memorial Hermann Sugarland, Gramercy Surgical Center, and UT Physicians Katy. They also provide emergency room services at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, LBJ General Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Woman’s Hospital, and via telemedicine at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands.
The department offers a full breadth of clinical programs, providing our community a specialized trauma center, congenital heart program, fetal center, craniofacial/cleft program, intestinal rehabilitation program, and programs specializing in pediatric brain tumors, vascular anomalies, and colorectal surgery. In addition to hospital and clinic-based care, the department is at the forefront of building innovative telemedicine and home-based care programs.
It is important to recognize that the Department of Pediatric Surgery cares for patients independent of ability to pay. In FY19, Medicaid was the main payer (60%). Revenues primarily include Memorial Hermann Hospital contract income and pro fees from MSRDP general.
Major areas of research are stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine, quality and safety, neural tumor and neural imaging, and clinical trials. The department has ongoing research protocols and clinical trials.
The Program in Children’s Regenerative Medicine is led by Dr. Charles S. Cox, Jr. The program specifically focuses on innovative cell and tissue engineering techniques to treat congenital and acquired defects in children. Traumatic injuries lead to significant morbidity and mortality, particularly among children, adolescents, and young adults. More specifically, traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to half of all trauma-related deaths and frequent, devastating prolonged morbidity, imposing a huge economic impact on individuals and society. There is no current treatment to reverse the cellular destruction associated with TBI. Cellular therapy is a burgeoning field of experimental treatment that has shown promise in the management of many diseases, including TBI. The overarching objective of our clinical, translational, and basic science program is to explore the therapeutic potential of cellular therapy for traumatic brain injury.
Dr. KuoJen Tsao directs the Center for Surgical Trials and Evidence-based Practice (C-STEP), which is a multi-disciplinary program designed to advance evidence-based practice in surgery by providing young faculty and surgical trainees with formal training in clinical research, mentorship, resources, and funding to perform high-quality research. The goals of C-STEP are to foster and develop surgical faculty, staff, and medical students interested in clinical research and to advance the surgical evidence base and its application in clinical practice.
The Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) study group is an international consortium of centers that prospectively collect and voluntarily contribute data about live-born CDH patients they manage. These data are compiled to form a registry from which any participating center may use to answer specific clinical questions and monitor outcomes.
Dr. David Sandberg pioneers novel treatments for pediatric brain tumors, and he is principal investigator of several clinical trials currently being conducted at UTHealth studying ways to deliver chemotherapy into the brain.
Dr. Stephen Fletcher’s research interests include Chiari malformation in children, comparative studies of canine and pediatric brain tumors, medical management of trauma-associated brain swelling, and attempts at culturing brain tumor cell lines in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center.
Dr. Manish Shah’s research focuses on pediatric epilepsy surgery, selective dorsal rhizotomy for spasticity, pediatric cranial and spinal trauma, pediatric cranial and spinal tumors, endoscopic and open treatment of craniofacial disorders, endoscopic and open treatment of hydrocephalus, pediatric cranial and spinal vascular malformations, and pediatric craniocervical spinal abnormalities.
Dr. Matthew Greives’ research focuses on surgical outcomes of patients with craniofacial and cleft anomalies as well as translational tissue engineering solutions to help these patients.
Research expenditures are up 11 percent over the last three years, which is impressive given this competitive environment.
The department is actively engaged in education. Medical-student teaching includes the third-year medical student core, fourth-year electives, and hosting about 20 summer lab students each year. Pediatric surgery provides a core rotation for many residencies and offers a very competitive fellowship.
Please join me in thanking Dr. Lally and our Department of Pediatric Surgery for their dedication to children and families. They are experts providing complex and specialized care to our most vulnerable and precious resources, our children.