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Leslie N. Sutton, MD

Attending Neurosurgeon

Director, Neurosurgery Fellowship Program

Professor of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

As the chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, I have been a member of the team at CHOP since my residency in the late 1970s.

My early work at CHOP focused on brain tumor research including extensive study on surveillance imaging in which I sought to reduce the frequency of scanning children with brain tumors. I was appointed assistant neurosurgeon here in 1981 and I currently operate on tumors of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

Our neurosurgery division maintains a brain tumor database and conducts ongoing molecular analysis of the different tumor types to determine the causes of different brain tumors. We are constantly evaluating the four treatment options for tumors: surveillance, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and our research is always providing us with ways to best utilize these four options to produce the best outcome.

People choose to come to CHOP because we have a lot of experience taking care of kids with brain tumors, and we have every possible treatment available to us. New technologies aside, it is still the skill and judgment of the surgeon that makes all the difference.

In 1997, I performed the very first early term fetal repair for myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. This groundbreaking procedure established a new avenue of treatment for children with spina bifida. I was painfully aware of how disabled these kids were from myelomeningocele – the paralysis, the incontinence and the endless numbers of operations for shunts. If we had the potential to alter this course for children, it was well worth doing.

Over the next several years, our team perfected the surgery technique which led to CHOP’s involvement in the “Management of Myelomeningocele Study” (MOMS). This randomized, clinical trial proved that babies who receive surgery before birth experience significantly better outcomes than those who undergo traditional repair of the defect after birth.

I perform both surgeries and recognize that very few people in medicine ever have the opportunity to change a whole disease and how it is managed. It is the neatest thing I have ever been involved with in my entire professional life. I will continue his focus on fetal repair, exploring new techniques for hydrocephalus, and brain tumors, and perfecting current procedures and training other surgeons.

My patients continue to inspire me and the most gratifying thing is seeing a little sick kid that feels better. Kids get sick really fast and they get better really fast. You have a desperately ill child and you do an intervention and you have a healthy, happy kid who goes home. That’s what it’s all about.

I have published more than 190 peer reviewed articles in journals such as JAMA, The New England Journal of Medicine, and the Lancet. I have also authored 90 book chapters. I have a penchant for motorcycles and drive a Harley Davidson Road King Classic.

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