Study Break: Spotlight on Pediatric Surgery

December 8, 2016

December 08, 2016


Today’s focus is on the Department of Pediatric Surgery.  Below is a summary of a conversation I had with Dr. Kevin Lally, department chair.

Dean Stoll: Your group has been a department for nearly 10 years now – tell us a little about the history of the department; how did pediatric surgery became a separate department?

Dr. Lally: We were born out of the Department of Surgery, and several factors were in play. First off, there was a critical need for pediatric specialists in the children’s hospital.  The traditional structure was not conducive to growth.  We had high Medicaid rates with very low reimbursements; pediatric specialists were needed for GME requirements at the school; there were major clinical problems in “pediatric” operating rooms.  We were losing a lot of our pediatric surgery specialists – with no growth in pediatric anesthesia, no recruitment in pediatric orthopedics, and we had lost both pediatric urology and pediatric ENT – at that time we were at risk for the last pediatric surgeons to leave. We worked with both the Department of Surgery and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital on the structure and formed a department in 2007.

Dean Stoll: How is it structured today?

Dr. Lally: As we’ve grown, we’ve established several distinct divisions within our department: general and thoracic pediatric surgery headed by Dr. Kuojen Tsao; pediatric acute care practitioners headed by Lisa Sansalone; pediatric neurosurgery headed by Dr. David Sandberg; pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgery headed by Dr. John Teichgraeber; pediatric cardiovascular surgery headed by Dr. William Douglas; and pediatric urology soon to be headed by Dr. Lars Cisek.  We also have pediatric subspecialists whose primary appointments are in different departments: orthopedic surgery led by Dr. Alfred Mansour; pediatric otolaryngology headed by Dr. Soham Roy; and pediatric anesthesia led by Dr. Maria Matuszczak. Our vice chair for research is Dr. Charles Cox, and the vice chair for quality is Dr. Kuojen Tsao.

Dean Stoll: Where are your clinical sites?

Dr. Lally: Our primary inpatient facilities are Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, LBJ General Hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.  We also provide inpatient services at Woman’s Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital, Memorial Hermann Southwest, Memorial Hermann Woodlands (telemedicine), and the Methodist Hospital. Our outpatient venues include the UT Professional Building, LBJ General Hospital, Woman’s Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Memorial City, Woodlands Neurosurgery Clinic, the Methodist Hospital; emergency room: MD Anderson Cancer Center, LBJ General Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Woman’s Hospital, and Memorial Hermann Hospital The Woodlands (telemedicine).

Dean Stoll: Please describe some of the research programs led by Pediatric Surgery faculty.

Dr. Lally: As a chair, I am committed to nurturing a department that is active in research.  We conduct research in stroke/ischemic injury, amniotic stem cells, deformation and function, engineered diaphragm, Wharton jelly-cleft, exosomes for PHTN/CDH, cord blood studies, stem cells for traumatic brain injury, and devices such as fluid warmer, tesla pump and variable occluding device.

Dean Stoll: What does your department’s educational program include?

Dr. Lally: We teach both medical students and residents.  We have approximately 20 summer lab students in addition to teaching a core course in the third year and fourth-year electives. For the residents we offer pediatric surgery core rotations for many residencies. We also have a fellowship in Pediatric General Surgery and are about to start a fellowship in Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Dean Stoll: What is the future of your department?

Dr. Lally: We have a wonderful department that is committed to excellence in all missions of an academic medical center—outstanding patient care, education, and research.  On the research side, we are always looking for collaborators.  We have developed recent collaborations in bioengineering with faculty at Rice University.  Faculty are working on expanding tissue engineering and use of applied cellular therapies. In the clinical space, we are expanding telemedicine into home-based care and are considering expanding our coordinated community specialty clinics, as well as our multidisciplinary clinics.

Thank you, Dr. Lally, for the overview and congratulations to Dr. Kuojen Tsao, associate professor of pediatric surgery and co-director of the Fetal Center, for being awarded a $2M grant this week from the March of Dimes for the creation of the first MOD Center for Perinatal Safety.


Thank you also to all of those who joined us for our inaugural McGovern Day celebration Tuesday, Dec. 6. It was a beautiful day to unveil our new signage, thank Mrs. Kathrine McGovern and the John P. McGovern Foundation for their generosity and vision, and recognize Dr. Holger Eltzschig as our first recipient of a John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Distinguished Chair. We can all be proud of our McGovern name and legacy.

Warm regards,



Distributed via email to all McGovern Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, Study Break is Dean Barbara J. Stoll’s update of news and items of interest. She welcomes feedback via email.

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