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What is paediatric surgery?

Paediatric surgery is a specialty concerned with the surgical treatment of children and adolescents. It is the only surgical specialty which focuses on an age group in particular rather than an area of the body or a specific technique (e.g as orthopaedic surgeons do, or plastic surgeons). Paediatric surgeons see patients from newborns to teenagers, usually up to the age of 19. They have a wide skillset, operating on children with a broad range of physiological differences.

What type of surgery do paediatric surgeons perform?

Paediatric surgery covers a wide range of surgical procedures. Types of surgery include transplantation, minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic surgery), urological surgery, trauma surgery, thoracic surgery, and abdominal surgery. Some of the more common procedures include:

  • Correction of undescended testes
  • Correction of torsion in the testes
  • Umbilical hernia repair
  • Herniotomy to repair inguinal hernia and hydrocele
  • Circumcision
  • Appendix removal

Which subspecialties are included under paediatric surgery?

The main subspecialties of paediatric surgery include:

  • Neonatal surgery – such as congenital abnormalities.
  • Paediatric urology – certain urological conditions affect children in different ways to in adults, or are usually found in children rather than adults.
  • Paediatric oncology – cancers developed in childhood are different to adult cancers, such as leukaemia.
  • Major trauma surgery

When should I see a paediatric surgeon?

Children will be referred to a paediatric surgeon should they need a particular surgical procedure performing. However, on some occasions children may be referred to other types of specialist surgeon who are able to see children. These include ENT surgeons (ear, nose and throat surgeons), ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and general surgeons. Specialist adult surgeons may work in tandem or together with paediatric surgeons in the treatment of certain conditions. In order to be correctly referred to a paediatric surgeon, visit a paediatrician or GP.