If your child needs pediatric surgery, it’s good to know that Nemours surgeons and specialized teams are skilled in procedures ranging from routine outpatient surgery to complex inpatient surgeries. Pediatric surgeons perform “general surgery” (also called “pediatric surgery”), which means operations for children on areas of the body other than the “brain, bones, and heart.”
We offer a wide range of surgical services in our advanced pediatric surgery center for kids of any age, from newborns to teens. Some of the common pediatric surgeries our board-certified surgeons perform treat conditions and problems like:
- abnormalities or defects: either congenital (present at birth) or acquired (ones that develop over time) including abdominal wall, chest wall, endocrine system (glands), gastrointestinal tract, lungs, head and neck masses
- abscesses, lesions, and burns on the skin and soft tissue
- appendicitis: inflammation of the appendix (a small finger-like organ that's attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the abdomen and is usually accompanied by fever and pain in the lower abdomen and around the belly button that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation)
- gastrointestinal conditions: such as gastroesophageal reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, and gallbladder disease
- endocrine problems: like thyroid/parathyroid conditions
- hernias: when part of an organ or tissue in the body such as a loop of intestine pushes through an opening or weak spot in a muscle wall
- conditions in infants or newborns — such as pyloric stenosis, intestinal malrotation, intussusception, and necrotizing enterocolitis
- oncology conditions
- obesity: bariatric/lap band surgery
Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
In certain cases and at some Nemours locations, our pediatric surgeons are able to offer minimally invasive procedures (including robotic surgery) to diagnose and treat various conditions.
Traditional "open surgery" procedures require larger "open incisions,"
whereas minimally invasive procedures use the patient’s natural openings (like the mouth and throat) or tiny incisions an inch or smaller. And that means shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery times, less pain and discomfort, reduced chance of infection and bleeding, and much smaller scars.
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Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Resources for Patients & Families
- Insurance We Accept: See accepted insurance, listed by location.
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- MyNemours: Access your child’s medical record online.
- Your Child's Surgery Guide (PDF) in English or Spanish: What to expect before, during and right after surgery.
Pediatric surgery is very different from surgery for adults. That’s why our surgical teams at Nemours Surgical Care Center are specially trained in pediatric surgery and pediatric surgical subspecialties to help children of all ages and sizes — from the smallest newborns just entering the world, to teens on the verge of adulthood.
Our Excellence in Pediatric Surgery
Our highly skilled pediatric surgeons at duPont Hospital for Children have been selected as some of the "Best Doctors in America®." Our pediatric surgical center staff also includes pediatric anesthesiologists, surgical nurse practitioners, and nurses — who understand both the physical and emotional needs of a child getting an operation.
And know that at duPont Hospital for Children, we’re a national leader in surgical results and overall quality of surgical care. We're involved in a nationwide effort to improve pediatric surgical care.
When your child needs any kind of surgery or procedure, it's understandable to be concerned. But knowing you have access to a top-notch pediatric surgery center at one of the top-ranked children’s hospitals in the country can hopefully give you some peace of mind.
What We Do: Types of Pediatric Surgery and Procedures
Our pediatric surgeons’ areas of expertise range from gastrointestinal diseases (like inflammatory bowel disease) to tumors (like neuroblastoma), from bariatric surgery (to control obesity) to newborn surgery repairing defects and treating problems such as pyloric stenosis (a condition that can cause problems for your baby such as vomitting forcefully), intestinal malrotation (obstruction caused by abnormal development of the intestines) and necrotizing enterocolitis (when intestinal tissue is injured or begins to die off, causing inflammation and, in rare cases, a hole in the intestine).
The range of conditions we treat includes:
- abdominal mass
- aerodigestive tract disorders
- anorectal malformation
- biliary atresia (a childhood disease of the liver in which one or more bile ducts are abnormally narrow, blocked or absent)
- breast disorders
- burn care
- chest wall deformity
- choledochal cyst (a problem with your child's liver ducts that carry bile to the gallbladder and intestine)
- cloacal exstrophy (a birth defect that can cause problems with your baby's abdominal bladder, intestines, genitalia and anus)
- conditions that require palliative care (relieving pain and enhancing the quality of life of children with severe, life-limiting or life-threatening conditions)
- congenital anomaly (a problem or unusual development that is present at birth)
- critical care
- extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- head tumor
- Hirschsprung disease
- hydrocele (the accumulation of fluid in a body sac, most often the testicle)
- imperforate anus (when the opening to the anus is missing or blocked)
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- inguinal hernia (when soft tissue bulges through a weak point in the abdominal muscles)
- intestinal failure
- liver tumor
- lung mass
- mesoportal shunt (a procedure to correct blockage of the portal vein outside of the liver)
- neck mass
- neck tumor
- ovarian disorders
- portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the veins outside the liver)
- short gut syndrome (a condition that occurs when part of the small intestine is missing)
- skin lesion
- splenic cyst (a growth on the spleen)
- vascular malformations (including anomalies such as hemangioma, port wine stain, etc.)
- venous access (the placement of a long, thin tube called a catheter into one of your child's blood vessels to deliver medicine directly into the bloodstream without needing to repeatedly puncture a blood vessel)
- wound care
We perform a wide range of surgeries, including:
- abdominal surgery
- anti-reflux surgery
- bariatric surgery
- endocrine surgery
- extrahepatic biliary surgery (surgery on the biliary ducts outside the liver)
- gall bladder surgery
- kidney transplant
- liver transplant
- neonatal surgery
- oncologic surgery (surgery for cancer conditions)
- pediatric surgery
- thoracic surgery (surgery for conditions that occur within the chest)
Our Specialized Multidisciplinary Programs
Chest Wall Program
This program is for children with conditions such as pectus excavatum (sunken chest) and pectus carinatum (sometimes called pigeon chest, in which the sternum and ribs protrude).
Anorectal Malformation/Bowel Management Program
For children with bowel disorders such as fecal incontinence, anorectal malformations and Hirschsprung’s disease (a disease which prevents bowel movements to pass through the intestines), we provide a specialty surgical program for patients at the hospital.
In general, we also offer:
- Diagnosis and treatment of pediatric surgical conditions.
- Prenatal testing and specialty consultations from our Nemours Partners for Perinatal Management Program (for fetal abnormalities detected during pregnancy that may require neonatal surgery — operations on newborns).
- Pediatric trauma evaluations in the Emergency Department (ED).
- 24-hour surgical services through our ED and Level I Trauma Center, as well as emergency departments within affiliated institutions where Nemours surgeons provide surgical services.
- minimally invasive surgery, when appropriate (surgeries with smaller incisions resulting in faster healing), with two state-of-the-art operating rooms dedicated entirely to minimally invasive procedures.
Modern technology makes it possible for our highly skilled Nemours pediatric surgeons to perform certain procedures in a “minimally invasive” way. In other words, some operations typically done with “open surgery” (which requires larger “open” incisions) can be performed using the patient’s natural openings (like the mouth and throat) or through tiny incisions an inch or smaller.
And that means:
- shorter hospital stays
- quicker recovery times
- less pain and discomfort
- reduced chance of infection and bleeding
- much smaller scars
Minimally invasive procedures can be performed through either:
- Endoscopy, in which a small lighted telescope is passed through a body opening. The scope can be used to examine the inside of the body. Instruments can also be passed through the scope to remove small objects such as kidney stones or to take biopsies (when a piece of tissue is obtained for close examination). Some procedures can be done without any cut at all – and the child can usually be sent home that very same day.
- Laparoscopy, which involves a few half-inch “keyhole” incisions rather than a large open incision, can be used for diagnosis (to figure out what the problem is) and/or treatment (to repair or remove a problem). One small incision is used for a tiny camera, which gives the surgeon a magnified view inside the body. The other incisions are used for inserting surgical instruments. The surgeon also inflates the abdomen with gas in order to see the inside of the body more clearly. Laparoscopy is often called “band-aid surgery” because the incisions are small enough that they can be covered with small bandages after surgery instead of a large dressing.
Basically, whenever you see or hear “oscopy” or “oscopic” at the end of a procedure’s name, it means “use of a scope” and sometimes other instruments to diagnose, inspect and/or treat a problem.
To give your child the very best treatment, our pediatric surgeons work together as a team with other Nemours specialists that may be involved in your child’s care. And you’ll often be able to see many of them all in one location, all on the same day.
We also offer the services and support of a surgical nurse liaison, who will be on hand during the surgery to keep you updated about your child’s progress and help make the process as easy as possible on your family.
To further ease your concerns, members of your care team will include our sympathetic support staff (from psychologists to child life specialists, from social workers to clergy). Our goal is to make sure you and your child understand what’s going on every step of the way — and that you’re coping with all of the emotions and stresses you may be feeling.
Areas of Surgical Expertise
In addition to general pediatric surgery, Nemours offers the following surgical specialties:
Our pediatric surgery center is located on the second floor of the duPont Hospital for Children, a hospital set in a beautiful park of oaks and green lawns, and featuring free parking for families.
If your child is getting surgery and needs to stay overnight, we’ve designed the rooms with cheerful décor, including multicolor floors and playful animal wallpaper. Each unit houses a play area/lounge with games, TV, toys, books, tables, couches, highchairs and computers. Kids’ rooms are equipped with a bathroom, a bulletin board to display cards or artwork and a special touch-screen TV that offers entertainment and educational options through a program called the GetWellNetwork. And, to help you be there as much as possible for your child, our rooms allow one parent to stay with their child overnight.
We also offer a Family Resource Center and Ronald McDonald Family Room to give you some of the comforts of home, just a few short steps away from your child’s bedside.
- laundry facility
- library with books, magazines and DVDs
- business center with a copier, fax machine, computers and printers
- three sleep rooms, equipped with a full-size bed and comfortable furniture, giving parents a peaceful respite from hospital life
The Family Resource Center and Ronald McDonald Family Room was a joint project between the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, located right across from the hospital’s campus.
What to Expect With Pediatric Surgery
If your child needs surgery, you can trust our pediatric surgical team at Nemours. Our pediatric surgical specialists (surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses) understand what kids need, psychologically and physically. Our guidebook provides step-by-step instructions and information about what to expect before, during and right after surgery at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Top 10 Things Kids Need to Know About Surgery
Take your child on a pediatric surgery video tour with Sheridan on her surgery day. This fun, kid-friendly video shows children and teens what to expect, step-by-step, if they need an operation at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.