This webpage provides guidance for outpatient referrals to the Starship Paediatric Neurology Service. Our specialty provides services for Auckland, regional and national DHBs. Referrals are accepted from paediatricians or other medical or surgical specialists. If you are a member of the public, please discuss your concerns with your family doctor or paediatrician.
Between neurology appointments, patients should consult their family doctor or paediatrician. For renewal of prescriptions please contact your family doctor.
Where are we based?
The service and our inpatient care are based at Starship Children’s Hospital. There are outpatient clinics in Starship Hospital and at regional centres including Whangarei, Wilson Home (Waitemata), Manukau SuperClinic (Counties Manukau), Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, Hastings (Hawkes Bay), Gisborne and New Plymouth (Taranaki).
What is Paediatric Neurology?
Paediatric neurology is the branch of medicine that diagnoses and manages babies, children and teenagers who have disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.
It involves looking after patients who are acutely unwell and require inpatient treatment (often in an intensive care setting), outpatient review of neurological problems and longer-term management of patients with chronic disorders.
- Dr Melinda Nolan Paediatric Neurologist
- Dr Rakesh Patel Paediatric Neurologist
- Dr Cynthia Sharpe Paediatric Neurologist
- Dr Claire Spooner Paediatric Neurologist
- Dr Gina O'Grady Paediatric Neurologist
- Dr Hannah Jones Paediatric Neurologist
Preparing for your child's hospital or daystay admission - click here
Your child's outpatient appointment - click here
What should you expect at your child’s first visit?
During a visit with a paediatric neurologist, the doctor will take a full history of your child’s problem which will include details of your pregnancy and the birth of your child and their developmental progress. The doctor will speak to you (the parent) and your child if he or she is able to understand.
The doctor will do a physical examination for your child’s neurological system and other relevant physical findings. After a thorough examination, the next steps will be discussed. The doctor may request additional tests to provide a diagnosis or to aid management. The doctor may prescribe medication and will arrange to see your child again if necessary. They will also send a letter to your child’s paediatrician and/or family doctor, with their findings and suggestions for future management. Please bring a list of your questions with you when your child sees the neurologist so that you have the opportunity to address all your concerns.
Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments
About your Child’s EEG (Electroencephalogram)
EEG is the name commonly used for electroencephalography. An EEG is an important test for diagnosing epilepsy because it records the electrical activity of the brain.
- It is safe and painless.
- Electrodes (small, metal, cup-shaped disks) are attached to your scalp and connected by wires to an electrical box. (The wires can only record electrical activity; they do not deliver any electrical current to your scalp.) The box in turn is connected to an EEG machine.
- The EEG machine records your brain's electrical activity as a series of squiggles called traces. Each trace corresponds to a different region of the brain.
About your Child’s Neuroimaging (CT and MRI)
Sometimes neurological conditions are caused by changes in the structure of the brain. Tests and procedures which take pictures of the brain, called "neuroimaging," can tell doctors whether you have one of these conditions. The most common neuroimaging tests are computed tomography (CT scan) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan). Both produce a picture of how the brain looks. Your child may need a general anaesthetic for their imaging study.
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
Lumbar Puncture (LP)
- The patient lies on his or her side, with the knees pulled up toward the chest. Sometimes the test is done with the person sitting up, but bent over.
- After the back is cleaned, the doctor injects a local anaesthetic which makes the skin and surrounding area numb.
- A spinal needle (which is long but smaller in diameter to that used to take a blood test) is inserted between two of the lumbar vertebrae (bones at the base of the spine).
- Once the needle is properly positioned, spinal fluid pressure is measured, and fluid is collected.
- The needle is removed, the area is cleaned, and a bandage is placed over the needle site. You will need to lie flat for 20 minutes to one hour after the test.
There are a number of different conditions that affect the nerves and muscles beyond the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Myopathy refers to disease affecting the muscles. Neuropathy refers to disease affecting the nerves. There are also diseases that affect the junction between the nerves and muscles.
For more information visit http://www.mda.org.nz/