Dr. Ian M. Heger, a pediatric neurosurgeon with expertise in minimally invasive approaches to repairing the premature fusion of a baby’s skull, has been named Chief of the Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.
Heger’s clinical expertise also includes head trauma, brain and other central nervous system tumors, aneurysms, arterial venous malformations, spine surgeries other than scoliosis as well as spasticity related to conditions such as cerebral palsy. His research interests include improved bike and football helmet safety and the developmental impact of brain surgery on children.
His previous appointments include Chief of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Section at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., and Assistant Director of Development and Clinical Services at the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla.
At the GHS Children's Medical Center, Heger is working with Dr. Jack C. Yu, craniofacial surgeon and Chief of the Section of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, to repair craniosynostosis, the premature fusion of one or more of the six major growth points, or sutures, in a baby’s skull. Premature fusion can result in misshapen heads as well as brain damage from inadequate room for brain growth. Heger accesses fused sites through small holes in the skull, cutting them to help restore normal skull growth. Babies typically wear helmets for three months to one year to help reinforce normal growth patterns. When the condition is diagnosed beyond about 4- and one-half months of age, the bone is too calcified so surgeons use a more traditional approach with larger incisions that includes removing and reshaping large pieces of the skull. When doable, the minimally invasive approach decreases blood loss, hospital stays and incision size, Heger said. He’s also collaborating with Neurosurgery Chair Cargill H. Alleyne Jr. and Neurosurgeon Scott Y. Rahimi to repair the most complex arterial venous malformations, a tangled mass of weak blood vessels in the brain that are at high risk for rupture.
Heger completed a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and neurosurgery residency at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. He completed an American Association of Neurological Surgeons Central Nervous System Traveling Fellowship in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital of Boston, a six-month elective in craniovertebral surgery at Long island College Hospital in Brooklyn and an American Syringomyelia (damage resulting from fluid-filled hole in the spine) Alliance Project clinical research fellowship at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. He is a 1995 graduate of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine.
For more information, call Heger’s office at 706-721-9386.