Treating Rare Brain Malformations in Children

Treating Rare Brain Malformations in Children

Children who need a rare type of brain surgery can now be treated at UTMB Health. 

UTMB Health recently joined a short list of Houston-area institutions with the ability to offer pediatric neurovascular surgery—a complex procedure that treats rare, congenital vascular malformations of the brain.

Dr. Peter Kan joined UTMB in July 2020, bringing his skills for the highly specialized procedure. Now, pediatric patients can receive this surgery close to home.

“These procedures had never been done before at UTMB,” Kan said. “They are very complex, unusual cases. Because there wasn’t a surgeon who did them, UTMB used to send these kinds of cases up to the Texas Medical Center.”

The surgery Kan performs removes vascular malformations in a child’s brain. These malformations can cause seizures or weakness, or may rupture and bleed in the brain, with neurologic or life-threatening effects. Treatment reduces the risk of hemorrhage and associated problems.

Because of the rarity of these cases, many medical centers are not equipped to diagnose and treat them. On average, Kan said he sees two of these patients a year, but since coming to UTMB, he has performed four of these surgeries—including three on high-risk infants. 

Although Kan has only been at UTMB for a little over a year, he developed a strong reputation for his expertise through his work in the Houston area over the previous six years. Most referrals have come directly to him from area neurologists and neurosurgeons who are familiar with his work.

Kan sees patients at the Clear Lake Campus and performs surgeries in Clear Lake, but currently only offers this procedure at the Galveston Campus as it offers two elements required for the surgery: a pediatric ICU and a pediatric anesthesiologist on staff. 

“This type of complex neurovascular malformation needs to be treated under a specialized setting, with a specialized team and ICU,” Kan said. “We are proud to start offering this at UTMB and now to have seen some cases.” 

UTMB’s neurosurgeons are committed to excellence in the care of neurosurgical patients and offer a full range of services to meet our patients’ health care needs.

Learn more about neurosurgery at UTMB Health.

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