Lurie Children’s Division of Neurosurgery is one of the busiest in North America, seeing more than 5,000 outpatients and performing approximately 1,000 surgeries a year. In fact, our neurosurgeons care for more children with disorders of the brain and spinal cord than any other hospital in Illinois.
With banner programs, our clinicians work across specialties to provide the most comprehensive care for our patients. We partner with Lurie Children’s own The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health in offering spina bifida surgery in utero, treating babies who have been diagnosed with spina bifida even before they are born. Since damage to the spinal cord progresses as the baby develops, studies have shown that early repair can provide improved outcomes versus waiting until after birth, as postnatal repair has traditionally been the standard treatment.
In addition, the Spina Bifida Center at Lurie Children’s, pioneered by pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. David McLone and now led by Dr. Robin Bowman, is widely recognized. It is one of the first multidisciplinary clinics for spina bifida in the country and now one of the largest comprehensive programs in the world. The Spina Bifida Center and The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health continue forward with the best care for patients and their families.
Another unique program led by our surgical team is the Pediatric and Adolescent Neurovascular Disease and Stroke Program with Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This program combines the expertise of our Lurie Children's pediatric neurosurgeons and neurointerventional radiologists as well as Northwestern’s endovascular/cerebrovascular surgeons. This partnership also helps Lurie Children’s efforts to assist our teenage patients in the transition from pediatric to adult care.
Among many other multidisciplinary programs are the Brain Tumor Program, the Brachial Plexus Program, and the Epilepsy Surgery Program. Across all programs, our neurosurgeons take specialized and evidence-based approaches to diagnosing and treating children’s conditions involving the brain and nervous system.
Sandi K. Lam, MD, MBA - Division Head, Neurosurgery
Dr. Lam is a pediatric neurosurgeon and specialist in the areas of pediatric cerebrovascular surgery, epilepsy surgery and craniofacial surgery with a focus on minimally invasive and endoscopic techniques.
In addition to her clinical experience in complex surgeries, her research focuses on quality, outcomes, and healthcare utilization for children and neurological surgery.
Dr. Alden is a pediatric neurosurgeon and the chief medical informatics officer for the hospital. In addition to his unique leadership role in clinical informatics at Lurie Children's, Dr. Alden runs a busy clinical practice with highly specialized skills and focus. He is our specialist in Pediatric Skull Base/Tumor Surgery (working with Dr. Jeffrey Rastatter of pediatric otolaryngology), pediatric craniovervical junction surgery, neurovascular surgery, epilepsy surgery, and co-director of the Brachial Plexus Program.
Dr. Bowman is a pediatric neurosurgeon with world-class experience in congenital and neural tube defects, with a remarkable career dedicated to spina bifida and in utero spina bifida surgery. She is director of the Spina Bifida Center, co-director of fetal neurosurgery for The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health, and medical director of Camp Independence for patients to engage in joyful play, confidence-building, and social integration.
Dr. DiPatri is a pediatric neurosurgeon involved in tumor, craniofacial, brachial plexus, epilepsy, spasticity, Chiari, hydrocephalus, trauma, and neurovascular programs. He is highly involved in neurosurgical education here at Lurie Children's as well as expanding knowledge- and skill-transfer with colleagues in Bolivia.
Dr. McLone is our emeritus pediatric neurosurgeon and founding director of Lurie Children’s multidisciplinary Spina Bifida Center. In the course of his illustrious career, patients with this diagnosis saw remarkable advancements in care, and the life expectancy of children with this diagnosis more than doubled.
Dr. Saratsis is a pediatric neurosurgeon who specializes in treating brain tumors; her basic science laboratory is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her lab studies the biology of pediatric brain tumors, specifically diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and proteonomics, in order to identify and test novel molecular targets for more effective therapies. A significant advance has come with "liquid biopsy" where CSF sampling can detect tumor-specific markers to determine tumor progression and response to treatment. Their overarching research goal is to identify biomarkers of disease and develop new therapeutic strategies to improve clinical outcomes for children with brain tumors, especially a most deadly pediatric brain tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
Dr. Tomita is a pediatric neurosurgeon and longtime medical director of the Brain Tumor Program at Lurie Children’s. In addition to a broad range of clinical interests, he is highly involved in the International Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery; as a past president of this organization, he is currently serving as historian.