What does a Neonatal Surgeon do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2019
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A neonatal surgeon performs operations on newborn babies. Such surgeries require the level of knowledge and skill a doctor acquires through years of extra training. These doctors work to correct serious medical conditions and disorders that affect newborns. A neonatal specialist often performs surgical operations on infants who have birth defects that affect the chest and abdominal region. This type of doctor may work to repair defects of the urogenital tract as well.

When a doctor specializes in neonatal surgery, he is a type of pediatric surgeon. This means he specializes in treating children. A neonatal surgeon, however, has received advanced training beyond that required to become a pediatric surgeon. This advanced training has prepared him to provide care for infants, for whom surgery is often very risky. Once trained, a neonatal surgeon works with a team of health care professionals that is skilled in providing the best possible care to these vulnerable, young patients.


Besides the actual surgery a neonatal surgeon performs, he is typically involved in other aspects of a patient’s care. For example, he usually evaluates and diagnoses newborn patients and then goes on to determine the treatment that is required. In some cases, a neonatal surgeon may provide an evaluation of a baby before he is even born. He may, for instance, use an ultrasound machine to look for physical abnormalities in the developing baby. In such a case, the information the neonatal surgeon gains may help him discuss any abnormalities with the unborn baby’s parents and prepare them for the child's medical needs after birth.

A neonatal surgeon is typically responsible for overseeing the patient's preparation for surgery as well. Once he has performed the operation, however, his job is usually not over. At this point, he is typically responsible for overseeing the patient’s care during the critical post-surgical period.

In order to become a neonatal surgeon, a person typically completes college and spends four years in medical school. He is then required to pass a licensing exam to gain the right to practice medicine in his jurisdiction. An aspiring neonatal specialist usually goes on to complete on-the-job training in general surgery, which is referred to as a residency. Once that is complete, he pursues specialized training in pediatric surgery, with neonatal surgery as his focus. The residency often takes five to eight years too complete, and the specialty surgical training may last for an additional two years.


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