In the Spotlight: Joffre Olaya, M.D.

Dr. Joffre Olaya performs the full range of pediatric neurosurgical procedures, including epilepsy surgery. He joined CHOC earlier this year after completing pediatric neurosurgery and epilepsy neurosurgery fellowships at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Seattle Children’s Hospital, respectively.


Dr. Joffre Olaya had his eye on CHOC long before coming here. During his pediatric neurosurgery training, he became increasingly interested in epilepsy surgery. And he was impressed by what he heard about the CHOC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, the only children’s hospital program in California to receive the prestigious Level 4 distinction from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

But first, Dr. Olaya decided to complete an additional fellowship in epilepsy surgery through the University of Washington at Seattle Children’s Hospital. In March 2014, he joined the CHOC medical staff and performs the full range of pediatric neurosurgical procedures, including the treatment of brain/spine tumors, cerebrovascular lesions, chiari malformations, neural tube defects, craniosynostosis and hydrocephalus, as well as intractable epilepsy.

Dr. Olaya is further developing the CHOC epilepsy surgery program, working closely with the other pediatric subspecialty services, and continuing to foster a multidisciplinary approach for optimal patient care. He is interested in the leading-edge technology that is making pediatric neurosurgical procedures safer and less invasive.

“I am particularly interested in the use of endoscopic techniques for treating hydrocephalus and craniosynostosis, as well as laser ablation for tumors and focal epilepsy,” said Dr. Olaya.

Dr. Olaya’s interest in treating epilepsy was sparked by a landmark article he read during his residency training.

“A randomized controlled trial showed that for patients who failed two medications, surgical treatment of epilepsy resulted in much greater seizure freedom compared to medication alone,” Dr. Olaya said. “I realized that for a select group of epilepsy patients, I could make a huge impact in their lives by offering them surgery.”

Dr. Olaya’s clinical interests encompass other neurological disorders, as well. His research on deep-brain stimulation for treating childhood dystonic cerebral palsy was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics October 2014. A related study on this topic was recently presented at the Pediatric Neurological Surgery Annual Meeting in Toronto and published in the November 2013 issue of Neurosurgery Focus.

This past April, Dr. Olaya presented his research into the use of resting-state functional connectivity MRI to assess memory lateralization in pediatric epilepsy surgery patients at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting. He is currently working on a CHOC institutional review board-approved study evaluating the use of helmet therapy for treating plagiocephaly.

Dr. Olaya is a graduate of the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. He completed his neurological surgery residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center. As a resident, he also performed an elective rotation in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Olaya has privileges at CHOC and CHOC at Mission Hospital. He is in practice with Dr. Michael Muhonen and Dr. William Loudon at CHOC Specialists in Orange.

For more information or to arrange a referral, please contact Dr. Olaya at 714-835-2724.