What are the Different Types of Pediatric Surgery?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Types of pediatric surgery are intensely varied, and it could be said that children may need many of the same treatments that are given to adults. They are not, however, “little adults” and pediatric surgical specialties arose due to the different treatment that children require. Some of these specialties are fairly common and others are very rare.

A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.

Some of the more recognizable types of pediatric surgery include ear, nose and throat (ENT) or pediatric otolaryngology surgery. The doctor that specializes in surgeries performed in these areas may particularly be interested in the treatment of conditions that affect kids. Tonsil removal or placement of tubes in the ears, for instance, are examples of types of pediatric surgery that could be performed by a pediatric ENT. It should be stated that these surgeons might do many other complex operations.

Corrective surgery on the eyes is one type of pediatric surgery.
Corrective surgery on the eyes is one type of pediatric surgery.

There are also many people who are simply pediatric surgeons, and these doctors may work in concert with other specialists, in the same manner that general surgeons tend to work with adult doctors. They might participate in surgeries that correct abnormalities of things like the kidneys or spleen. Additionally they could do surgery involving the gastrointestinal tract. Though these are specialists, they have a more general field of practice and great variety in the types of pediatric surgery they might perform.

There are various types of pediatric surgeries, some more common than others.
There are various types of pediatric surgeries, some more common than others.

More specialized is the work of the pediatric transplant surgeon, and these surgeons are much fewer in number. They tend to have complete training in general surgery and they may also have become specialists in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. Though surgeries performed may be more limited in variation, this is one of types of pediatric surgery only entered into by the most skilled surgeons.

About 8 in 100 children are born with a congenital heart defect, a number of which require surgery.
About 8 in 100 children are born with a congenital heart defect, a number of which require surgery.

On its own, pediatric cardiothoracic surgery is an important specialty since about 8 in 100 children are born with a congenital heart defect. These surgeons repair defects or palliate them whenever possible, and some do specialize in transplant. CT surgeons may also operate on adults since the whole field of cardiac defects is not one greatly addressed by adult cardiac surgery specialties.

Other types of pediatric surgery include pediatric neurosurgery and pediatric orthopedics. The former may work to correct a number of brain anomalies, problems with the spine or the presence of abnormal growths, and the latter can work with kids for many reasons that include abnormal growth patterns, removal of tumors, or a plethora of additional orthopedic challenges. Anesthesiology is another important surgical specialty that is valuable in almost all other types of pediatric surgery and there are pediatric anesthesiologists.

A number of types of pediatric surgery are so rare they are only practiced at a few medical centers in the world. Fetal surgery, performed on babies that are not yet born, is one of these and may require a doctor’s knowledge not just in fetal surgical techniques but also in a variety of congenital defects or problems that might arise during gestation. Some hospitals have specialists that are pediatric ophthalmologists, who may perform corrective eye surgery. Another area of specialty is pediatric plastic surgery.

A pediatric neurosurgeon may need to perform emergency surgery on a child who has sustained a traumatic brain injury.
A pediatric neurosurgeon may need to perform emergency surgery on a child who has sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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