Pediatric Brain Tumor Program

Article Teaser

Le Bonheur has five board certified pediatric neurosurgeons leading the largest pediatric brain tumor program in the country. Some of the most common brain tumors operated on include: medulloblastoma, ATRT, PNET, ependymoma, craniopharyngioma, low grade or high grade glioma.

Le Bonheur is home to one of the nation's largest pediatric surgical brain tumor programs. 

Our program is a partnership between several organizations – Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Semmes Murphey Clinic, PC, University of Tennessee Health Science Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

At Le Bonheur, your child’s multidisciplinary team will include physicians representing radiology, neuropsychology, neuropathology and neuroendocrinology, plus specially trained nurses, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists, nutritionists and audiologists. Through this collaboration, the team determines the best treatment plan for each child.

We are nationally known for our aggressive surgical approaches and groundbreaking treatments of brain tumors in children and adolescents. Our surgeons perform more than 160 brain tumor surgeries each year.

Children with brain tumors receive care from a multidisciplinary group of physicians, scientists, nurses and support staff representing the many types of treatment and support crucial to the comprehensive care.

Children in Le Bonheur and St. Jude joint brain tumor program have some of the highest one-year survival rates

  • Medulloblastoma – 88 percent
  • Ependymoma – 100 percent
  • Glioma – 83 percent
  • Craniopharyngioma – 100 percent

Our patients have access to the most advanced technology available, including intraoperative MRI.

Our six-bed Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (Neuro ICU) is specially designed for the care of children following brain tumor surgery. Le Bonheur is one of a few children’s hospitals with a neurosurgical intensive care unit. It is staffed with nurses trained in post-brain surgery recovery. Patients may also stay in the Neuroscience Unit which is dedicated to patients with neurological conditions.

Our patients have access to a comprehensive team all dedicated to the best outcomes for each child. Each week, our team collaborates to determine the best treatment plan for current patients. The weekly brain conference team includes pediatric neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists at Le Bonheur and neuro-oncologists and pediatric radiation oncologists at St. Jude.

Children from 32 states visited Le Bonheur last year to be treated at the Institute.

Conditions we treat

We treat many types of tumors, benign and malignant, including:

  • Astrocytoma (Junville Pilocytic, Glioblastoma Multiform, Anaplastic)
  • Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT)
  • Choroid Plexus Carsinoma/Choroid Plexus Papilloma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Arachnoid Cyst/Colloid Cyst/Dermoid Cyst/Epidermoid Cyst
  • Dysembryoplastic Neruoepithelial Tumor (DNET)
  • Ependymoma
  • Ganglioglioma
  • Germ Cell Tumor
  • Germinoma
  • Glioma/Optic nerve glioma/ mixed cell glioma)
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Neurofibromatosis (NF-1)
  • Oliogodendroglioma
  • Pineal region tumors
  • Primitive Neuroectodermal tumors (PNET)
  • Skull base tumors
  • Spinal Cord Tumors
  • Craniofacial:  In conjunction with UT Plastics
  • Sagittal Craniosynostosis
  • Uni or bilateral coronal craniosynostosis
  • Metopic craniosynostosis
  • Lambdoid craniosynostosis
  • Complex craniosynostosis: due to syndromes (Cruzon's, Pfeiffer's and Apert's syndrome)

Brain tumor treatments

Most childhood brain tumors are treated with pediatric brain tumor surgery. Radiation and chemotherapy can also be part of the treatment plan. Through our partnership with St. Jude, children with brain tumors have access to promising new treatments not yet available at other hospitals.

What to expect

Typically, patients will meet their neurosurgeons at clinic practice, Semmes Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute, or St. Jude Children’s Hospital neurosurgery clinic. To make arrangements to send your child’s images in advance, please contact Semmes Murphey at 901-522-7700.

Once it is decided that your child needs to undergo brain surgery with our team, your nurse will contact you with a surgery date. Most patients will be admitted either the day before surgery for pre-operative testing or the morning of surgery.  

The neurosurgery team works very closely with families to reduce the stress of admission and coordinate care to meet their needs.  Families are encouraged to stay with their child throughout their stay and alternate arrangements for housing can be made through our staff with the FedExHouseFamilyHouse if needed. Once admitted, you and your child will meet the various members of our health care team including nurses, nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, child life specialists, anesthesia staff, and of course, their surgeon. 

Your child will be closely monitored after surgery, usually in the neurosurgical ICU, and our staff will be readily available as needs or questions arise. The average recovery time for children after brain tumor surgery is 5-7 days. During this time, our team focuses on recovery and discharge readiness. Once your child is medically cleared for discharge, the neurosurgery team arranges a follow up plan of care that meets your needs.  This may include follow-up appointments with your child's neurosurgeon, follow up appointments with a local neurosurgeon in your area, transition to care at St. Jude Children's Hospital or any combination as required.

For more information about pediatric brain tumors, visit the following websites:

American Brain Tumor Association
National Cancer Institute
The Brain Tumor Society
National Brain Tumor Foundation
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

How to connect with us

Patients will have their first appointment at our neurosurgeons’ practice, Semmes Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute. Contact Semmes Murphey at 901-522-7700. For more information, contact the Neuroscience Institute at or Le Bonheur Connect at 901-287-PEDS or 1-866-870-5570.