HomePatient ResourcesCraniofacial GlossaryWhich Specialist Does What Terms

Which Specialist Does What Terms

You’ve heard the expression, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? Well, when it comes to treating craniofacial differences, syndromes, and cleft lip and palates, it’s exactly the opposite. The more areas of the face and head involved, the more specialists we need on the team. Each one has a specific and critical amount of input, working closely with all the others to create and carry out the very best, individualized treatment plan for your child. So please don’t be put off by all the people you meet on our team…everyone is working to help your child be a healthy, functioning part of your family.

Eye

Audiologist

A trained, experienced and certified licensed professional who assesses, treats, and rehabilitates hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists may also carry out research on hearing, tinnitus, and balance issues.

Craniofacial Surgeon

Refers to the member of your child’s craniofacial team who evaluates, diagnoses, creates a
treatment plan, and carries out whatever surgical correction/repair your child’s skull,
facial skeleton, and all related soft tissues require. This surgeon holds board
certification in craniofacial surgery, including special experience or training in working
with children, since many syndromes and conditions are present at birth and are best dealt
with during the childhood years. The surgeon works closely together with all the other
specialists on the team prior to finalizing any surgical treatment plan.

Geneticist or Genetic Counselor

Refers to the craniofacial team member who evaluates your family’s medical/family history, examines your child to assist the team with accurate diagnosis, and counsels your family regarding risk of craniofacial problems in your family’s future children. He or she completes many years of education, specialized course work and field training to learn to analyze inheritance patterns and recurrence risk; they’re also skilled in interviewing, counseling, and providing support to families as they learn about and make decisions regarding their response to the genetic information gathered about your child and family.

Neuroradiologist

Refers to a consultant or team doctor who creates, evaluates, and interprets pictures of your child’s nervous system, including the spine, head, neck and brain. This specialist uses a variety of forms of radiation to allow the nervous system to show up on film: x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, angiography, and occasionally, ultrasound. He or she has undergone years of training: college, radiology certification, several years of neuroradiology fellowship, and ongoing clinical experience.

Orthodontic Surgeon

A dentist who evaluates the position and alignment of your child’s teeth and coordinates a treatment plan with the surgeon and other specialists. This person holds board certification in Orthodontics, as well as having special training for work with children. In order to be on a craniofacial team, the Orthodontist should have many years of experience on such a team, working with a variety of oral-maxillofacial conditions and corrective procedures. Most of our cleft lip/palate patients are under the joint care of the team orthodontist and craniofacial surgeon frequently from the beginning of infancy through graduation from high school.

Otolaryngologist

Refers to the team physician who helps evaluate and treat inner ear infections and disorders, structurally and neurologically based hearing loss, voice and swallowing disorders, nose and sinus disorders. His or her training includes many years of education and clinical work: college, medical school, and a five-year residency; to become ‘Board Certified’, they must study for and excel in two extra examinations. Because cleft lip/palate and related craniofacial conditions typically affect the inner ear and upper throat structures/functions, this specialist must have a great deal of experience in a wide variety of patient cases.

Pediatric Anesthesiologist

Refers to the specialist who helps your child stay comfortable during any needed surgical procedures, using a carefully balanced combination of medications tailored to your child’s age, weight and metabolism. Pediatric anesthesiologists undergo many years of general and specialized training to allow them to care for children from infancy through the late teen years, with a thorough understanding of the needs of particular age groups. He or she will work closely with you and your child to make the hospital stay as comfortable and smooth as possible, as well as to help minimize your child’s concerns or fears before surgery. Further, he or she monitors, manages and eases your child’s post-op pain.

Pediatrician

A trained, experienced, and certified/licensed professional who examines children to
confirm healthy growth and development, as well as to discover and treat illness.

Pediatric Intensivist

Physician who will follow your child as he/she grows and help coordinate the multiple specialists involved.

Pediatric Nurse

A trained, experienced, and certified/licensed professional who carries out physician
directives regarding your child’s specialized care, provides information and patient
education to parents, and serves as a liaison between parents and medical team
specialists.

Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Refers to the member of your child’s craniofacial team who has undergone many years of
specialized medical and surgical training, as it applies to children. This includes
board certification in neurosurgery, with years of experience working with children
dealing with craniofacial conditions. This person understands not only your child’s
nervous system, but also the implications of the nervous system’s effects on
craniofacial structures. He or she works with the other surgical specialists to
develop an effective treatment plan to maximize the proper functioning of your child’s
brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

Pediatric Ophthalmologist

Refers to the specialist on our team who will study and treat whatever eye problems
your child may have in relationship to their craniofacial condition. Although examining
children’s eyes is included in all Ophthalmologist training, Pediatric Ophthalmologists
have years of additional education and experience with the entire scope of children’s
eye conditions, treatment, and maintenance. Before the age of nine, the brain’s
vision-related areas develop; if the child’s eyes are not straight or unable to focus
correctly during this formative time, permanent vision problems can result. On the other
hand, this specialist is trained to identify and treat any such early problems, allowing
the child to grow up with optimum vision.

(Pediatric) Neuro-Ophthalmologist

Refers to the team specialist who identifies, consults and repairs any visual problems
your child may exhibit, stemming from a nervous system condition rather than from a
problem with the eyes themselves. This may include: optic nerve conditions (optic
neuritis and ischemic optic neuropathy), visual field loss, unexplained and/or
transient visual loss or disturbances, double vision, abnormal eye movements, thyroid
eye disease, myasthenia gravis, unequal pupil size, and eyelid abnormalities. To excel
at this, a neuro-ophthalmologist spends time learning and practicing treatment of eye
problems, brain, nerve and muscular problems. This requires many years of training,
including medical school, clinical training, and board certification in Neurology,
Ophthalmology, or both.

Plastic Surgeon

Refers to the member of your child’s team who specializes in the repair, reconstruction,
or replacement of areas of physical defect. The term “plastic” comes from the
Greek word “plastikos”: to change. For children born with craniofacial
conditions, this surgeon works to improve both the function and appearance of skin,
muscles, head/neck structures, and other body areas affected by syndromes and
deformities, such as hands or feet. His or her expertise must include understanding and
competency in grafts (design and surgery), skin flaps, free tissue transfer, and tissue
replantation. Often, their work requires skill in repair and management of complex
wounds as well as in the use of implantable materials and microvascular techniques.

Prosthodontist

Refers to the specialized dentist who evaluates your child’s oral area – mouth,
dental arches, gums, palates, teeth, jaws – and works with the orthodontist and
surgeon to determine the best replacement solutions for missing or dysfunctional
structures. He or she carefully chooses proper tooth replacement options to create or
restore both how your child’s mouth looks and how it works. A Prosthodontist undergoes
2-3 years of training following dental school, and additional lectures, seminars,
lab/clinical training courses in many subjects: crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays,
complete and removable partial dentures, dental implants, TMD jaw joint problems,
traumatic mouth structure injuries, congenital conditions affecting the teeth, snoring
and sleep disorders, oral cancer reconstruction, and continuing care.

Psychologist

A special professional trained, experienced and licensed to help people deal with psychological issues.

Social Worker

A trained, experienced, and certified/licensed professional who spends time getting to know our patients and their families, works to understand their particular concerns and areas of stress related to the child’s condition; offers counsel and practical solutions where possible, and establishes connections to other people or organizations in the community for further help, as needed.

Speech-Language Pathologist

A trained, experienced, and certified/licensed professional who examines children and adults to discover and treat the cause of speech, language, and communication disorders. This person undergoes years of specialized training, passes special exams, and learns to work with a variety of highly specialized equipment in order to find out everything that’s going on with regard to your child’s ability to communicate and express themselves effectively.

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