A child laughing as he looks at her smiling mother.

You Expect the Best — We Deliver It With Compassion

Your child deserves the highest quality of care. Our desire to improve care for children with head and neck tumors is what drove AdventHealth for Children to create our highly specialized, multidisciplinary Pediatric Head and Neck program. Our experienced and compassionate team is committed to doing everything we can to bring your child healing relief and help them thrive.

Using our unique experience and advanced technology, our dedicated pediatric team takes the time to fully understand your child’s specific condition and its impact on their health, daily function and appearance. Then we closely collaborate with one another and with your family to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to meet your child’s individual needs. This includes accommodating your child’s future growth and development.

Surgical Innovation and Experience You Can Trust

Our comprehensive Pediatric Head and Neck program uses breakthrough technologies like CAD/CAM (computer-assisted design/computer-assisted modeling) to precisely plan your child’s surgery, plus pediatric-specific surgical techniques to help prevent complications and achieve optimal outcomes with minimal impact on appearance and function. Our team has also incorporated numerous best practices before, during and after surgery to ease the effects of treatment, reduce your child’s stress and promote faster recovery.

Before Surgery

We focus on optimizing your child’s health before they undergo any procedure. If needed, we will provide transfusions, supplements (such as iron), and/or blood products to provide an element of neuroprotection (preservation of the structure and function of nerve cells) and to decrease the likelihood of your child needing a transfusion during surgery.

Immediately before surgery, we administer gabapentin (an anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication) to reduce the need for pain relief after surgery. This may be continued at a lower dose until your child is discharged from the hospital.

We always maintain close communication among all members of your child’s care team and with your family to keep you updated along the way.

During Surgery

We aim to minimize narcotic use while ensuring adequate pain control. As a result, we administer a combination of local anesthetic, dexamethasone (a steroid to reduce inflammation), and bleeding-control measures along with multimodal pain control.

Our surgical team uses intraoperative brachytherapy to reduce radiation effects on children. This technique directs radiation to a target area while affecting the surrounding tissue as little as possible.

We also employ strategies to maintain near-zero fluid balance. This includes the use of autologous red cell recycling (infusing your child’s own washed red blood cells that were collected prior to surgery).

After Surgery

Immediately after surgery, we administer medication to control your child’s pain (using non-narcotic first-line agents) and to prevent nausea/vomiting (ketorolac, acetaminophen, ondansetron, hydromorphone, lorazepam).

Care Coordinator

Personal Guidance From Your Care Coordinator

Processing your child’s diagnosis and navigating their treatment can feel overwhelming. One of the most essential members of our Pediatric Head and Neck team is our children’s nurse care coordinator, Carie. Carie is specially trained registered nurse who serves as your central point of contact, helping to guide you through each step of your child’s care journey. This includes:

  • Answering questions
  • Assisting you with prior authorizations, letters of medical necessity and other insurance issues
  • Coordinating care and referrals among your child’s various specialists
  • Ensuring communication and coordination of every aspect of your child’s surgery, from imaging and pre-op to post-op and follow-up care
  • Offering emotional support and connecting you with additional community resources if needed
  • Providing education about your child’s specific diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care

Carie is here to help ease your stress and manage the logistics so you can focus on what matters most — your family.

A Collaborative Clinical Team of Experts

At AdventHealth for Children, our expert pediatric specialists hold the highest certification and training in their respective fields and are committed to collaboratively caring for your child — body, mind and spirit. Depending on your child’s specific condition and personalized treatment plan, your care team may include any of the following providers:

  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Rheumatologists
  • Personal Care Coordinator(s)
  • Physician Assistants
  • Radiologists
  • Registered Dietitians
  • Social Workers
  • Speech, Language and Feeding Therapists
Head and neck patient, Leiamarys
Patient Testimonial

Compassionate Patient Care

"Dr. Lopez treated Leia like if he was treating his own child. He showed compassion, understanding, and he made sure we understood what was going on specifically for Leia. The whole team has something you don’t see very often in doctors and nurses anymore, love and passion for their jobs. They never hesitated in answering calls, messages etc. They made us feel like we were all a big family. We are extremely blessed that Dr. Lopez was Leia’s surgeon. We know that God put him in the correct place in the correct time. He is an amazing doctor and any kiddo will be blessed to have him as their surgeon." - Debbie, Leia's mom

Researching New Ways to Enhance Care and Improve Outcomes

At AdventHealth for Children, we believe in the power of collaboration to achieve innovation. We’re working with colleagues around the world on critical research to improve pediatric head and neck tumor care. Our team is currently engaged in the following efforts:

  • Developing new methods of CAD/CAM (computer-assisted design/computer-assisted modeling) to optimize head and neck tumor surgery outcomes
  • Evaluating techniques to reduce the need for adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy) after surgery to remove cancerous (malignant) head and neck tumors
  • Examining the molecular and genetic basis of rare tumors that can present in the head and neck region
  • Studying surgical methods for reduction of adverse events and complications to improve clinical outcomes after thyroid cancer surgery
  • Working closely with the Children’s Oncology Group to enroll children in ongoing clinical trials to study the effectiveness of promising new treatments