Dr. P. Langham Gleason, earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts in 1989. The Beth Israel Hospital of Boston, Harvard Medical School: Surgical Intern and Instructor in Surgery. Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University School of Medicine: Junior Resident in Neurosurgery and Instructor in Surgery. Children’s Hospital of Boston and The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School: Senior & Chief Resident in Neurosurgery. He is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. His specialty is Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurological Surgery. He specializes in Cancer, Craniotomy (Brain Surgery) Infection, Neurosurgery, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Spinal Fractures, Spinal Stenosis, Wounds and Injuries. He has over 23 years of experience.
Gleason decided he would specialize in pediatric neurosurgery after he watched a surgery in which a 14-year-old girl’s pituitary tumor was removed and she regained her eyesight. It was during his pediatric neurology rotation at Massachusetts General Hospital, and one of the neurosurgeons there had seen his workup on the young patient. He inspired Gleason to choose a career in pediatric neurosurgery, and Gleason was sold.
“That’s powerful magic, helping a child see again,” Gleason said. He likened the feeling of helping a child and the gratitude of the parents to “hitting the walk-off homerun in the World Series.”
The most common surgery he performs is on children born with hydrocephalus, or extra fluid in the brain. It’s frequently seen in children who are born premature or who have a type of blockage in the brain, which prevents circulation of spinal fluid, Gleason said. The head can swell to an amazing size, and a shunt must be placed in the brain to drain the excess fluid.
The latest treatments for children with hydrocephalus involve using an endoscope to make an opening at the base of the brain to drain the fluid, Gleason said. There are now programmable shunts with magnetically adjustable valves that can be used to drain the excess fluid, he said. Shunts are generally in place permanently and must be replaced if a problem develops, he said.
There are some challenges in operating on children, according to Gleason. “Being a pediatric neurosurgeon is the most difficult when a child can’t be saved. That never gets easier,” he said. “I rely on my faith, and explain that my own belief is that it’s always been God’s plan for that child to return home at that time. Explaining things in physiological terms to parents doesn’t help in those situations.”
Gleason trained at Harvard’s Children’s Hospital of Boston, the only neurosurgery residency based at a children’s hospital. He said the main reason he came to Corpus Christi is the reputation of Driscoll General Hospital, and that he is thrilled to work with his two partners. “They are very dedicated individuals; one of us is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “Dr. Smith and Dr. Alexander are warm, patient and committed doctors.”