Five Questions With: Dr. Albert Telfeian

Hasbro Children’s Hospital new director of pediatric neurosurgery talks about the new role and the hospital’s surgical work. More

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Five Questions With: Dr. Albert Telfeian

"I have performed more than 4,000 neurosurgical procedures and am always looking for a way to make surgery a better, less invasive experience for my patients."
Posted 12/10/12

The new director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Dr. Albert Telfeian, is the latest new talent to be recruited to Providence as part of the growing hub of neuroscience doctors, researchers and surgeons.

Telfeian, who will oversee a wide spectrum of brain-related surgeries for children, including brain and spine tumor removal, and surgical treatments for epilepsy, stroke, cerebral palsy and chronic pain, is coming back home in many ways. He earned his MD/Ph.D degrees at Brown University.

PBN: What kinds of pediatric neurosurgery are performed on a regular basis at Hasbro?

TELFEIAN: Our pediatric neurosurgery team at Hasbro Children’s Hospital specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with a range of neurosurgical disorders, such as brain tumors, hydrocephalus, spasticity, movement disorders, intractable epilepsy, craniosynostosis, head injuries, and spina bifida, as well as other cranial malformations and spinal deformities.

Our surgeons work as part of a multidisciplinary team of pediatric practitioners, offering a range of specialized expertise that can only be found at a hospital like Hasbro that is dedicated solely to children.

PBN: What kinds of neuroscience research, if any, will you be involved with at Hasbro?

TELFEIAN: I have performed more than 4,000 neurosurgical procedures and am always looking for a way to make surgery a better, less invasive experience for my patients. My current research interests involve the development and application of endoscopic techniques to neurosurgical procedures, transforming procedures previously done with open surgical access under general anesthesia to outpatient, awake, “band-aid” surgeries.

PBN: Providence is becoming a hub of neuroscience talent – with the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, the Brown Institute for Brain Science, the Providence VA Medical Center’s Research Center of Excellence for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, and the hiring of a new chair of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown's Medical School. How do you see the pediatric neurosurgery becoming part of the equation?

TELFEIAN: Brown University is a very special place for neuroscience – that is what attracted me over 20 years ago to come here to do my MD/Ph.D.

It has only gotten better. The pediatric neurosurgery program already benefits from collaborations with our colleagues in psychiatry and neurology and aims to extend those collaborations across the field of neuroscience as we aim to establish novel approaches to surgical therapies for neurologic diseases.

PBN: How has the art of minimally invasive surgery progressed for children? What kinds of advances have there been?

TELFEIAN: Minimally invasive approaches are transforming pediatric neurosurgery today. Children with spina bifida are having surgery before they are born. Some children with hydrocephalus are being treated endoscopically so they can avoid shunting. Computer technology now lets us bring MRI-guidance into the operating room to navigate the resection of tumors through ultra-small incisions.

Technology is transforming how we treat children with neurologic diseases improving their care.

PBN: With the new information regarding concussions and blows to the head during athletic competition, what kinds of protective steps do you think young athletes should take?

TELFEIAN: I have two very active sons and the exposure that head injuries in sports is getting is doing a tremendous good in bringing this very important issue to the public forefront.

The most important step in protecting against concussion is prevention.Proper and well-fitting gear for the young athlete is important, but so are the changes we are already seeing in how we let our children play in high-velocity, high-impact sports.

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