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The Role of Pediatric Surgeons

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Pediatric surgeons specialize in surgical methods for the care and treatment of children. Their patient range are those from the infant stage of development through the teenage years in need of a surgical operation. Within this field, there are different specialties including pediatric:

  • neurological surgery
  • ophthalmology
  • orthopedic surgery
  • otolaryngology
  • plastic surgery

Pediatric Surgeons’ Roles and Responsibilities

Although purpose of pediatric surgery depends on the procedure, its general purpose is to correct any disease, traumatic injury, congenital condition, and other disorders of pediatric patients through surgery. Their key responsibilities include diagnosis, prevention, operative, and management care that children in need of surgical attention require, in conjunction with the patient’s primary pediatric physician. Because there are infants born with certain complications who cannot hope to live healthy lives without surgical intervention, a large number of patients needing pediatric surgery are infants.


After receiving an undergraduate degree, all pediatric surgeons must successfully complete medical school, five years of graduate school, concentrating on surgery, and two years of specialized training in pediatric surgery following medical board certification. The two extra years are focus only on the care and attention required for children during medical procedures.

Also, the candidate must undergo a written surgical examination, and medical board certification obtained (which must then be updated every ten years following initial certification). Because pediatric surgeons must take into account the special requirements unique to their young patients, the surgeon is trained to treat the entire range of surgical illnesses. As a result of this additional training, a pediatric surgeon’s skills are highly regarded by both parents and medical professionals.

Pediatric surgeons are highly trained in the areas of neonatal, prenatal, trauma, and pediatric oncology.

Neonatal – Pediatric surgeons have specialized knowledge in the surgical repair of birth defects, especially those that may be life threatening to both premature and full-term infants.

Prenatal – The pediatric surgeon works in cooperation with radiologists, during the fetal stage of a development to detect abnormalities. Armed with this information, they can plan proper corrective surgery, while at the same time educating and preparing the parents before the baby is born. At the leading edge of pediatric surgery is fetal surgery, which can only be properly facilitated by a thorough prenatal examination and diagnosis.

Trauma – Trauma is the number one killer of children in the United States, and as such, pediatric surgeons regularly encounter critical care situations involving traumatic injuries sustained by children that may require surgical procedures. However, many pediatric surgeons are involved in accident prevention programs in their communities, which target the reduction of traumatic injuries in children.

Pediatric Oncology – Pediatric surgeons may specialize in the diagnosis and surgical care of children with not only malignant and benign tumors, but those with other cancer related issues as well.

Most pediatric surgeons work within children’s hospitals, university medical centers, general hospitals, and in private medical facilities. Although pediatric surgeons are quite common in urban areas, their presence in rural areas is quite rare.

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