The Paediatric Neurology Service provides a specialist medical service to Hunter New England Local Health District and Northern NSW. The team provides specialist consultation services, diagnostic services, medical treatment, and follow-up care to infants, children, and adolescents who have suspected or confirmed neurological disorders.
What does a Paediatric Neurologist do and specialise in?
Paediatric neurologists combine the expertise in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, muscles, nerves) with an understanding of childhood medical conditions and the special needs of the child and their family. In many cases, they work as a team with paediatricians and other paediatric specialists when it comes to care for children with more complex or serious medical issues.
Who will be responsible for my child's care and what should we expect?
The Paediatric Neurology Unit has three Neurologists who share the clinical workload. The clinical service is supported by one Clinical Nurse Consultant (or Neurology Nurse), a Paediatric trainee rotating every six months in Neurology and administrative staff for the unit.
How do you make an appointment?
The process is initiated by a referral from the Local Medical Officer or your general practitioner on grounds of a diagnosed or suspected neurological condition. The preferred pathway is an assessment by a Paediatrician that provides an opportunity for a preliminary assessment. A faxed written referral is a must to initiate the process.
A Paediatric client with suspected or diagnosed neurological condition may need assessment and management in one of these different settings:
1. Specialist Neurology Clinics (JHCH)
Most of our clients are seen in the clinic setting with only a small proportion that needs hospital admission for diagnosis or treatment. Parents and carers are encouraged to bring all medical information available at hand for the clinic visit. Parents may bring written information about the medical diagnosis in question, list of symptom(s), past medical history that may include pertinent information related to birth, early development, surgery or procedures and medical information about previous illnesses.
Appointments are made on referral from your medical general practitioner (LMO) or your Paediatric specialist.
During the consultation: The consultation aims to gather and collate all information relevant to the referral, provide a neurological assessment and order investigations relevant to the referral. It also provides opportunity to discuss various issues around the diagnosis, personal concerns and information that they may have come across from various sources.
2. Inpatient consultation service
3. Day stay services (JHCH)
This service is applicable to very selective clients based on the investigation or treatment needs. This includes consultation or review on a weekly or as appropriate for those with complex needs; and/or organising admission for sedation procedures such as MRI Imaging, Lumbar puncture or EEG studies.
4. Diagnostic services
a. Electroencephalography (EEG examination)
The EEG examination is simply a study of brain wave patterns. These patterns are normally existing and very specific to individual age groups. In addition to recognising normal brain wave patterns, the emphasis on the electroencephalographer is to look for and screen for abnormal patterns that when put together with clinical information leads to a diagnosis or formulation of epilepsy patterns or syndromes. They are also useful in situations to exclude a possibility of seizure or epilepsy in a first event or recurring events.
Children as young as 3-4 years of age have been successful in cooperating for the procedure. It is painless, takes 15 minutes to set up and is recorded on a computer application for 20-30 minutes. Patient preparation is important and our technologists call to advise before the appointment on sleep deprivation, nap with bottle and in very selective situations sedative medication to calm the child for the procedure to complete successfully.
The results are usually communicated to the referring doctor.
Routine EEG FAQ's:
b. Clinical neurophysiology that includes nerve conduction/ EMG studies
c. Diagnostic imaging: MRI Imaging, CT Imaging, Ultrasound imaging
MRI procedure is the most common one performed.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) FAQ's:
d. CSF- Lumbar puncture. Lumber puncture FAQs.
e. Diagnostic procedure including muscle or skin biopsy.
John Hunter Children's Hospital Administration
8.00am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday
Ph: (02)49 213670
Outside these hours please contact John Hunter Switch on (02)49 213000.