of Pediatric Surgeons
Focus of Pediatric Surgery
Training and Certification
How Can Pediatric Surgeons Help?
When your child needs medical
treatment, you want him or her to have the very best care available. So it
stands to reason that if your child needs an operation, you will want to consult
with a surgeon who is qualified and experienced in operating on children.
Surgeons who specialize in general surgery often provide surgical care for
children, and they are fully qualified to perform many operations on children.
In more urbanized areas of the country, another kind of surgeon—the pediatric
surgeon—is also available to provide comprehensive surgical care for children.
Pediatric surgeons operate on
children whose development ranges from the newborn stage through the teenage
years. In addition to completing training and achieving board certification in
general surgery, pediatric surgeons complete two additional years of training
exclusively in children’s surgery. They then receive special certification in
the subspecialty of pediatric surgery.
A fully trained surgeon is a
physician who, after medical school, has gone through years of training in an
accredited residency program to learn the specialized skills of a surgeon. One
good sign of a surgeon’s competence is certification by a national surgical
board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. All board-certified
surgeons have satisfactorily completed an approved residency-training program
and have passed rigorous specialty examination. The letters F.A.C.S. (Fellow of
the American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon’s name are a further
indication of a surgeon’s qualifications. Surgeons who become Fellows of the
College have passed a comprehensive evaluation of their surgical training and
skills; they also have demonstrated their commitment to high standards of
ethical conduct. This evaluation is conducted according to national standards
that were established to ensure that patients receive the best possible surgical
What is the pediatric surgeons role in treating the child?
Pediatric surgeons are primarily
concerned with the diagnosis, preoperative, operative, and postoperative
management of surgical problems in children. Some medical conditions in newborns
are not compatible with a good quality of life unless these problems are
corrected surgically. These conditions must be recognized immediately by
neonatologists, pediatricians, and family physicians. Pediatric surgeons
cooperate with all of the specialists involved in a child’s medical care to
determine whether surgery is the best option for the child.
What is the focus of pediatric surgery?
Pediatric surgeons utilize their
expertise in providing surgical care for all problems or conditions affecting
children that require surgical intervention. They participate in transplantation
operations, and like most surgeons today, they use laparoscopic techniques for
some operations. They also have particular expertise in the following areas of
Pediatric surgeons have specialized knowledge in the surgical
repair of birth defects, some of which may be life threatening to premature and
Pediatric surgeons, in cooperation with radiologists, use
ultrasound and other technologies during the fetal stage of a child’s
development to detect any abnormalities. They can then plan corrective surgery
and educate and get to know parents before their baby is born.
Prenatal diagnosis may lead to fetal surgery, which is a new
forefront in the subspecialty of pediatric surgery. Application of most fetal
surgical techniques is still in the experimental stage.
Because trauma is the number one killer of children in the
United States, pediatric surgeons are
routinely faced with critical care situations involving traumatic injuries
sustained by children that may or may not require surgical intervention.
Many pediatric surgeons are involved in accident prevention
programs in their communities that are aimed at curbing traumatic injuries in
Pediatric surgeons are involved in the diagnosis and surgical care
of children with malignant tumors as well as those with benign growths.
Where do pediatric surgeons work?
Pediatric surgeons practice their
specialty in variety of medical institutions, including children’s hospitals,
university-related medical centers with major pediatric services, and large
urban community hospitals.
How are pediatric surgeons trained and certified?
Pediatric surgeons must have
graduated from an accredited medical school and must have completed five years
of graduate surgical education in an accredited general surgery residency
program. Then, they must complete two additional years of full-time education in
an approved fellowship program in pediatric surgery. Following completion of
their two-year study in the subspecialty of pediatric surgery, they must pass a
written examination to ensure that their surgical knowledge is of the highest
level and an oral exam to determine their ability to manage a variety of
surgical problems in infants and children. In order to take this examination,
they must first become board certified in general surgery. After these
requirements have been fulfilled, surgeons are granted a special certificate in
the subspecialty of pediatric surgery. This certificate must be renewed every 10
years to ensure that every pediatric surgeon is competent and up-to-date with
regard to advances in pediatric surgical care.
What differences can a pediatric surgeon make?
Pediatric surgeons specialize in the
surgical care of children. They are surgeons who, by training, are oriented
toward working with children and understanding their special needs. In addition,
they work with various specialists who are also oriented toward children and
toward providing high-quality, safe, and emotionally supportive care for their
patients. When a pediatric surgeon performs an operation, it is the culmination
of an orderly and detailed process involving pediatricians, family physicians,
and other medical specialists who work together to treat the whole child. For
pediatric surgeons, one of the most satisfying and fulfilling aspects of their
profession is that the majority of their patients will live long into the 21st
century. Pediatric surgeons
are able to save whole lifetimes, and have the opportunity to follow their
patients through a productive young life into adulthood.
Prepared as a public service by the
COLLEGE OF SURGEONS
633 N. Saint Clair St.
Chicago, IL 60611-3211