A photo of Karen Bierbrauer.

Faculty Neurosurgeon, Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Board Certified

My Biography & Research


As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I specialize in all types of spina bifida and fetal congenital anomalies. For me, the patient and their family are truly at the center of what we do in our field. We consider not just today’s outcome, but also how what we do impacts our patients over their lifetimes.

My career has been influenced by two truly great mentors who had a profound effect on my interest and specialty. Even today, these mentors remain two of my heroes for their selfless dedication to their patients.

During my neurosurgery training, I was fortunate to learn from and work with a neurosurgeon who specialized in the care of children. Watching him and how compassionately he cared for his patients and their families convinced me that this was the path I wanted to take as well. During my specialty fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery, the director of the program sparked my interest in the care of children with spina bifida. I learned much from him and was so inspired that my passion continues to this day.

As a member of the Cincinnati Fetal Center’s team of subspecialists, I direct the neurosurgical evaluation of children enrolled in the comprehensive Spina Bifida Clinic at Cincinnati Children's. I’m also honored to serve on the board of the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati. Each year, I look forward to this organization’s Walk and Roll event, where I get to see so many wonderful families enjoying themselves outside the hospital setting.

In my research, we are trying to improve our understanding of prenatal diagnoses of congenital malformations so that we can better counsel families and improve perinatal management of mother and fetus.

When my family and I first came to the United States, I was very young and did not speak any English. During my senior year of high school, I was selected as a Presidential Scholar. Traveling to Washington, D.C., to receive this award was a momentous time in my life. I later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Additional Languages


Clinical Interests

Fetal malformations of the brain and spinal cord; spina bifida; tethered cord; head injury

Research Interests

Head injury; biomedical informatics

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Neurosurgery, Fetal Care, Spina Bifida, Neurosurgery

My Locations

My Education

MD: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, 1980-1984.

Residency: Neurosurgery, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 1985-1989.

Fellowship: Pediatric Neurosurgery, The Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.

My Publications

Prenatal and postnatal MRI findings in open spinal dysraphism following intrauterine repair via open versus fetoscopic surgical techniques. Nagaraj, UD; Bierbrauer, KS; Stevenson, CB; Peiro, JL; Lim, FY; Habli, MA; Kline-Fath, BM. Prenatal Diagnosis. 2020; 40:49-57.

Complications in Children with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Following Spine Surgery: Analysis of the Pediatric National Surgery Quality Improvement Program Database. Matur, AV; Nouri, A; Huang, S; Elson, NC; Jeong, W; Bierbrauer, KS; Mangano, FT; Cheng, JS. World Neurosurgery. 2020; 133:e473-e478.

Radiological and clinical predictors of scoliosis in patients with chiari malformation type i and spinal cord syrinx from the park-reeves syringomyelia research consortium. Strahle, JM; Taiwo, R; Averill, C; Torner, J; Shannon, CN; Bonfield, CM; Tuite, GF; Bethel-Anderson, T; Rutlin, J; Brockmeyer, DL; et al. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. 2019; 24:520-8.

Growing up with spina bifida: Bridging the gaps in the transition of care from childhood to adulthood. Patel, SK; Staarmann, B; Heilman, A; Mains, A; Woodward, J; Bierbrauer, KS. Neurosurgical Focus. 2019; 47:E16-E16.

Retinal Findings in Young Children With Increased Intracranial Pressure From Nontraumatic Causes. Shi, A; Kulkarni, A; Feldman, KW; Weiss, A; McCourt, EA; Schloff, S; Partington, M; Forbes, B; Geddie, BE; Bierbrauer, K; et al. Pediatrics. 2019; 143:e20181182-e20181182.

Myelomeningocele Versus Myelocele on Fetal MR Images: Are There Differences in Brain Findings?. Nagaraj, UD; Bierbrauer, KS; Stevenson, CB; Peiro, JL; Lim, F; Zhang, B; Kline-Fath, BM. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2018; 211:1376-1380.

Routine surveillance imaging following mild traumatic brain injury with intracranial hemorrhage may not be necessary. Patel, SK; Gozal, YM; Krueger, BM; Bayley, JC; Moody, S; Andaluz, N; Jr, FR A; Bierbrauer, KS. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2018; 53:2048-2054.

Spinal Imaging Findings of Open Spinal Dysraphisms on Fetal and Postnatal MRI. Nagaraj, UD; Bierbrauer, KS; Stevenson, CB; Peiro, JL; Lim, FY; Zhang, B; Kline-Fath, BM. American Journal of Neuroradiology. 2018; 39:1947-1952.

Lessons learned from administration of high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate for acute pediatric spinal cord injuries. Caruso, MC; Daugherty, MC; Moody, SM; Jr, FR A; Bierbrauer, KS; Geis, GL. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. 2017; 20:567-574.

Hindbrain Herniation in Chiari II Malformation on Fetal and Postnatal MRI. Nagaraj, UD; Bierbrauer, KS; Zhang, B; Peiro, JL; Kline-Fath, BM. American Journal of Neuroradiology. 2017; 38:1031-1036.