Dr. Dale Swift is happiest when a pediatric patient recovers so well from a neurosurgical procedure that he or she doesn’t even realize the condition was a big deal—and when the parents never notice any negative effects on their child’s personality or life.
“I’m inspired every day by these kids,” says Dr. Swift. “They’re always so motivated to get better.”
I’m inspired every day by these kids. They're always so motivated to get better.
Part of the neurosurgical team at Children’s Health℠ since 1992, Dr. Swift performs a wide variety of surgeries to treat numerous conditions, including complex procedures to address cerebrovascular anomalies that can take up to 20 hours in the operating room.
Dr. Swift spends much of his time educating the families of his young patients.
“It’s so important for parents to ask all the questions they can and understand the situation – to know nearly as much as I know,” he says. “I want to be able to communicate with them, not scare them, and I want them to be confident and optimistic but also have realistic expectations. Even if I can’t cure the child, I help them understand what’s going on.”
He’s known best in the media as the neurosurgeon who planned, and participated in, the surgery to separate Egyptian conjoined twins Mohamed and Ahmed Ibrahim in 2003.
“It wasn’t the longest or toughest operation I’ve ever done, but it certainly got the most media attention,” says Dr. Swift, of separating the toddlers, who were joined at the crown of the head. “And it was probably one of the most successful separation surgeries, of that type, that had ever been done.”
Dr. Swift is optimistic about the future of pediatric neurosurgery, and neurosurgery in general, as the field sees better outcomes stemming from new technologies, improvements in technique, and accumulated wisdom. But, he said there is still much to be done to effectively treat the often-complex neurological defects, diseases, and malignancies affecting young patients and their families.
“Everything we do today can be done better, faster, cheaper, and with less risk,” he says. “Every procedure and treatment can – and hopefully will – be improved for our patients.”
He has a special interest in researching and treating Chiari malformation – a congenital defect in the area where the brain and spinal cord connect; pediatric vascular conditions like arteriovenous malformation and cavernous malformation; and moyamoya syndrome, a disease in which certain arteries in a child’s brain are constricted.
Dr. Swift is certified by the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University, served as a surgical intern and completed his residency in neurological surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and spent one year in a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
He is a member of the Texas Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, among others. Outside of his practice, Dr. Swift enjoys traveling, running, playing music and spending time with his family. He and his wife both run and play piano and their two sons, who are distance runners, are also musically inclined.
Education and Training
- Medical School
- Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1984)
- New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University (1985), General Surgery
- New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University (1991), Pediatric Neurological Surgery
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (1992), Pediatric Neurological Surgery
- Board Certification
- American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery
- Achondroplasia (Dwarfism)
- Anaplastic Astrocytoma
- Apert Syndrome
- Arachnoid Cysts
- Arterial Dissection
- Arteriovenous Fistula (AVF)
- Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
- Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor
- Brain Abscess
- Brain Aneurysms
- Cavernous Malformations
- Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis
- Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke
- Chiari Malformations
- Head Trauma
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Intractable Epilepsy
- Lipomas (Skin Lesions)
- Moyamoya Disease
- Pfeiffer Syndrome
- Pilocytic Astrocytoma
- Pleomorphic Xanthoastrocytoma
- Spina Bifida (Myelomeningocele)
- Tethered Cord
- Vein of Galen Malformations
- Baclofen Pump
- External Ventricular Drain
- Management of achondroplasia and other skeletal dysplasias
- Management of Chiari malformations
- Management of complex cerebrovascular disorders
- Management of complex craniofacial anomalies
- Management of hydrocephalus
- Management of spasticity and movement disorders
- Management of spinal dysraphism and repair of spinal cord anomalies
- Minimally invasive skull-based surgery
- Myelomeningocele repair
- Shunt Placement
- Skull Base Surgery
- Treatment of all tumors of the central nervous system
Departments and Programs
His research interests include endoscopic surgery, endoscopic third ventriculostomy, and the pathophysiology, development, and treatment of Chiari malformations.
- Melanotic neuroectodermal tumor of infancy: report of one calvarial lesion with T1 shortening and one maxillary lesion. Koral K, Derinkuyu B, Timmons C, Schwartz-Dabney C, Swift D. Clinical Imaging 34; 2010, pp 382-384.
- Limited reduction cranioplasty for the treatment of hydrocephalic macrocephaly. Gage EA, Price AV, Swift DM, Sacco DJ, Fearon JA. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Dec;128(6):1272-80.
- Endoscopic third ventriculostomy in hydrocephalus associated with achondroplasia. Swift D, Nagy L, Robertson B. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012 Jan;9(1):73-81.
- Intraocular pressure in pediatric patients during prone surgery. Szmuk P, Steiner JW, Pop RB, You J, Weakley DR Jr, Swift DM, Sessler DI. Anesth Analg. 2013 Jun;116(6):1309-13.
- Suboccipital decompression during posterior cranial vault remodeling for selected cases of Chiari malformations associated with craniosynostosis. Scott WW, Fearon JA, Swift DM, Sacco DJ. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2013 Aug;12(2):166-70.
- Chairman, Joint Subcommittee on Computer Technology of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurologica Surgeons (1993-1996)
- Member, Texas Association of Neurological Surgeons (1993 - present)
- Sociedad Neurologica de Colombia - Miembro Honorario (1993)
- Member, American Association of Neurological Surgeons (1993 - present)
- Member, Congress of Neurological Surgeons (1993 - present)
- Member, International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (1993 - present)
- Member, American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery (2002 - present)
- Member, Surgical Peer Review Committee, CMC, Dallas (2003 - present)
- Member, Graduate Education Committee, CMC, Dallas (2006 - present)
Awards and Honors
- D Magazine Best Pediatric Specialist (2010-2013, 2015-0020)