FAQs

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Who can train in the Surgical Innovations Lab?

Our courses are attended by an international student body that includes residents, fellows, young surgeons seeking to enhance their skills, and experienced surgeons who would like to learn the latest techniques in our three-dimensional lab setting

How can I tell if a head injury is serious or not?

Any head injury, no matter how minor, has the potential to be serious, so when it doubt have it checked out. A temporary change in mental status (confusion, disorientation) is often a sign of concussion. Loss of consciousness is caused by the disruption of the long tracts that reach down into the brainstem and may signal a more serious injury. Find out more about brain and spine injuries.

Do my children or relatives have a Chiari malformation? Should they all get tested?

Probably not. It is highly unlikely that any first-degree relative (parent, child, sibling, etc.) is affected. Unless your relatives have symptoms of Chiari, they do not need any MRIs or other diagnostic imaging. (Read more about Symptoms of Chiari Malformation.)

Can I have the minimally invasive or endoscopic surgery for Chiari?

Possibly. All patients are potential candidates for minimally invasive or endoscopic surgery, and your neurosurgeon will discuss that with you thoroughly before making a decision. (Read more about Surgery for Chiari Malformation.)

Will I need more than one surgery for Chiari?

A second operation is very unlikely and may depend on the type of surgery performed. The potential for a secondary procedure ranges from 3 to 10 percent. In a child younger than 3 years of age, there is a higher likelihood of bone regrowth that may call for additional surgery later. (Read more about Surgery for Chiari Malformation.)

When can my child return to school, or when can I return to work, after Chiari surgery?

As long as your employment does not involve heavy exertion, you will usually return in two or three weeks. Children can return to school after two or three weeks, but should not participate in physical education classes or recess for about six weeks. (See more on Diagnosing and Treating Chiari Malformation.)

Does my hair need to be shaved for Chiari surgery?

Before surgery, we'll make a small part at the hairline at the top of the neck. Any hair removal is hardly noticeable. (Read more about Surgery for Chiari Malformation.)

Are there any treatments for Chiari other than surgery?

No. Some patients do not require any treatment, and in some cases we can opt to treat the symptoms only, with pain medication. But managing pain does not treat the condition — surgery is the only option that treats Chiari. (Read more on Surgery for Chiari Malformation.)

Is Chiari surgery dangerous?

No. The procedure is done frequently and patients do very well. At the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, almost all patients (more than 90 percent) have successful outcomes. Complications from surgery, while theoretical, are rarely if ever seen. (Read more on Surgery for Chiari Malformation.)

What if I don't want Chiari surgery?

If your neurosurgeon recommends surgery, it's because you need it — you may have progressive symptoms that could limit your normal activities and (rarely) put you at risk for neurological dysfunction. (Read more on Diagnosing and Treating Chiari Malformation.)

Is Chiari an emergency?

No. A Chiari malformation has usually been present for a patient's entire life. Symptoms usually come about very slowly over months or years. Rarely, patients may experience symptoms only after some minor or major trauma such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. Once Chiari is diagnosed, surgery can be performed on an elective basis if it's recommended. (Read more on Diagnosing and Treating Chiari Malformation.)

Why should I choose Weill Cornell for my treatment?

The Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center is a leader in high-tech computerized diagnostic and treatment methods, named again and again as one of the top neurosurgical programs in the nation. (Find out more about our Surgical Services and Surgical Programs.)

Are there clinical trials for glioblastoma multiforme I could be joining?

Ask your medical team what clinical trials may be appropriate, and find out about clinical trials for brain tumors here at Weill Cornell. You can also check the current list of clinical trials on clinicaltrials.gov. Find out more about glioblastoma multiforme.

Should I get a second opinion for a diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme?

Of course — this is a serious medical issue and you should gather as much information and advice as you can. Our neurosurgeons are also available to provide a second opinion if you have been diagnosed elsewhere. Use our online form to request an appointment with one of our brain tumor specialists.

Where should I go for treatment of glioblastoma multiforme?

Glioblastoma multiforme is a complicated  diagnosis, and it’s important that you be treated at a major medical center where the neuroscience team has experience with these brain tumors. At the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, a world-class team of pre-eminent experts on glioblastoma multiforme evaluates each new cases and develops an individual treatment plan that may include surgery, radiation, stereotactic radiosurgery, and chemotherapy.

Do Botox injections really work for hemifacial spasm?

Temporarily, yes. An injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) causes a small, partial paralysis of the muscle and stops the spasm. The paralysis is temporary, so injections need to be repeated approximately every six months. See more about Diagnosing and Treating Hemifacial Spasm.

How is hemifacial spasm treated?

Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) can provide temporary relief, but the permanent solution is usually microdecompression surgery. See more about Diagnosing and Treating Hemifacial Spasm.

What causes hemifacial spasm?

Hemifacial spasm is caused by any one of a number of possible irritants to the seventh cranial nerve, but it’s most frequently caused by a small blood vessel (usually an artery) compressing the  facial nerve at the brainstem. Find out more about Hemifacial Spasm.

Are there DIPG clinical trials we could be joining?

Maybe. Ask your medical team what clinical trials may be appropriate. You can also check the current list of clinical trials on clinicaltrials.gov.    There is an innovative clinical trial for DIPG currently recruiting patients at the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Should I get a second opinion for a diagnosis of DIPG?

Absolutely. The pediatric neurosurgery team at the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center will work with you to find other major medical institutions that may have options for your child’s treatment. We are also happy to evaluate your child and offer a second opinion on a diagnosis you’ve received elsewhere. Contact Dr. Souweidane or Dr. Greenfield at 212-746-2363, or use our online form to request an appointment.

Where should I take my child for treatment for DIPG?

DIPG is so rare that most doctors have never seen it – it’s important that you take your child to a major medical center where the neuroscience team has experience with rare brain tumors. (See Doctors Who Treat DIPG.)

How can we be sure it really is DIPG?

The diagnosis of DIPG is based on the patient’s symptoms and MRI images.

What causes a pontine tumor (DIPG)?

Unfortunately, nobody knows. There are no known risk factors for DIPG, and no way to prevent it. Find out more about DIPG.

Are there clinical trials for gliomatosis cerebri we could be joining?

Ask your medical team what clinical trials may be appropriate. You can also check the current list of clinical trials on clinicaltrials.gov.

Should I get a second opinion for gliomatosis cerebri?

Of course – this is a serious medical issue and you should gather as much information and advice as you can. Our neurosurgeons are also available to provide a second opinion if you or your child were diagnosed elsewhere. Use our online form to request an appointment or call 212-746-2363. You may also create a secure online account where you can upload your images to get a second opinion remotely.
 

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