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Craniofacial Team Roles

Craniofacial Surgeon

The craniofacial surgeon is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon specifically trained to treat craniofacial conditions and whose practice is limited to this type of surgery. As the team leader, this doctor coordinates the efforts of all other specialists. Through years of experience in treating craniofacial deformities, the craniofacial surgeon is able to recognize the more subtle distortions of the craniofacial region.

Pediatric Neurosurgeon

The pediatric neurosurgeon works with the craniofacial surgeon in patient evaluation and surgical procedures. The unique partnership between the neurosurgeon and craniofacial surgeon has led to the development of many new techniques at the center that allow for successful treatment of anomalies once thought uncorrectable.

Pediatric Neuroradiologist

The pediatric neuroradiologist is a physician who aids the surgeons in patient diagnosis and treatment. The radiologist uses a wide array of techniques, including computerized axial tomography (CAT scan), three-dimensional reconstruction of CAT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to document a child’s condition.

These exams provide much of the information needed to define a patient’s craniofacial problem. Images of the skull and facial bone structure, as well as the soft tissues of the brain, orbits and face, are studied in planning corrective surgery.

Pediatric Anesthesiologist

The anesthesiologist is a specialist in pediatric anesthesia and neuroanesthesia who monitors and supports the patient’s vital signs during surgery. He or she also uses special techniques such as hypotensive anesthesia to decrease blood loss.


Craniofacial surgery often requires that the eyeball be moved or the skeleton be repositioned around the eye. The neuro-ophthalmologist performs a detailed examination of the eyes and evaluates the visual portion of the nervous system in order to predict what may happen when the eyes are moved in space.


The otolaryngologist examines the patient and provides treatment for any problems relating to the ear, nose or throat. Particular attention is given to any structural abnormalities in the airway that might interfere with or influence the delivery of anesthesia during surgery.

Speech Pathologist

The speech pathologist provides assessment, diagnosis and treatment of speech and language problems, including detailed assessments of speech and palate function prior to surgery. When required, the pathologist makes audio and video recordings for analysis of speech sounds and lip and tongue movements, as well as to keep a record of the patient’s speech progress throughout treatment.

Geneticist / Pediatric Medicine

The geneticist determines whether a patient’s problems fit a known syndrome, providing the foundation for genetic counseling. Because some craniofacial syndromes are known to be hereditary, the geneticist may be able to advise you as to the risks for siblings and unborn children.

The information obtained by the geneticist also helps expand the current body of knowledge about craniofacial disorders. As more disorders are discovered and described in medical literature, new methods of treatment, and possibly prevention, can be developed.

Psychologist / Social Worker

Craniofacial deformities can have devastating effects. Together, the psychologist and social worker evaluate the effects of the facial deformity on patients and their families. Early in treatment, they work with the patient and family to set realistic expectations for surgery.

They answer questions concerning the surgery or hospital stay and provide insights that are helpful in preparing for surgery. They also provide family and individual counseling and referrals


The psychologist uses a variety of age-based tests to evaluate the patient’s intellectual potential, academic achievement and psychological preparation for surgery. The social worker meets with parents to obtain a complete family history, assess coping abilities and expectations, and provide referrals to community resources, including family and patient support groups.

The psychologist and social worker serve as valuable family resources both when patients are in the hospital and after they return home.


The anthropologist, who is specially trained and highly experienced in craniofacial conditions, takes some 150 measurements of the head and face of the patient. This data is compared to that of unaffected children of the same age and sex. The comparisons show the area and degree of defect, information that is used in planning surgery.

The measurement process is usually repeated at intervals after surgery to allow the anthropologist to follow the growth pattern. These measurements provide valuable information for use in treating future patients.

Medical Artist

The medical artist, using photography and data from the anthropologist, draws the patient’s ideal face. These drawings provide a visual model that guides the surgical team.


The photographer, like all members of the team, is skilled in working with craniofacial patients. Photographs are an important part of each patient’s evaluation and treatment. They are used in treatment planning and research and as part of the patient’s permanent medical record.

Craniofacial Nurse Coordinator

The craniofacial nurse coordinator coordinates new patient evaluations in accordance with patient diagnostic protocols. The nurse coordinator provides education in preparation for the surgery and serves as a patient and family resource, as well as a liaison throughout evaluation and treatment.

Team Secretary

The team secretary assists the nurse coordinator in providing patients and families with schedules and other information they request. The team secretary is also available to help patients and families make transportation and lodging arrangements.

Pedodontist / Orthodontist

The pedodontist and orthodontist play significant roles in the care of craniofacial patients, providing preventive, educational and therapeutic services related to oral hygiene.

The orthodontist may apply braces and plan surgical corrections to determine the amount of dental-skeletal movement necessary to achieve desired results.


Regular visits with the pedodontist (i.e., a pediatric dentist) and orthodontist are a critical part of the craniofacial patient’s care plan and help ensure optimal healing after surgery.

Note: The information above should not necessarily be considered valid for diagnosis or treatment of any specific patient. Only competently trained medical professionals can appropriately diagnose and treat someone with craniofacial birth defects.

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