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Paediatric Surgery Specialist Doctor

Similar to adults, children can also encounter various health problems that require proper medical treatment. The treatment and care provided to children must be carried out in a specific manner, considering children have more vulnerable physical and mental conditions compared to adults.

In the present day, paediatricians are known as experts that treat diseases suffered by children. Paediatricians will also treat numerous health problems in children with non-surgical procedures. However, it is imperative to know that not all health problems experienced by children can be treated with non-surgical procedures. This is where a paediatric surgeon comes into the picture.

Paediatric surgery is a subspecialty branch of general surgery. Apart from paediatric surgery, there are several other sub-surgical specialties such as surgical oncology, gastrointestinal surgery, endocrine surgery, breast surgery, vascular surgery, transplant surgery, and trauma surgery.

Paediatric surgery specialists have the ability to treat health problems that require surgical procedures such as tumors, cancer, and organ abnormalities. In addition, paediatric surgeons are also capable of handling emergency cases, accidents, infections, injuries, degenerative disorders, and congenital disorders in children and adolescents.

Paediatric surgery began to be developed in the 1950’s. At that time, many infant death cases were caused by the unavailability of treatment methods specified for children. This branch of medicine was eventually developed so that it could be applied to paediatric patients: from newborns (premature or normal), to 18-year-old adolescents.

Paediatric surgery can be divided into several branches of expertise:

  • Prenatal paediatric surgery: treats health problems in the unborn fetus.
  • Neonatal paediatric surgery: treats health problems in infants, including premature babies.
  • Oncology paediatric surgery: treats health problems in children related to tumors and cancer.
  • Traumatology paediatric surgery: treats health problems in children related to emergencies, trauma, and injuries.
  • Urological surgery: treats health problems in children related to the urinary tract.
  • Digestive surgery for children: treats health problems in children related to the digestive tract.

Diseases That Are Treated by Paediatric Surgeons

A paediatric surgeon has the capability of providing medical treatment and surgery to deal with various health problems suffered by children. Diseases and health problems treated by these specialist doctors tend to be serious as they cannot be treated with non-surgical procedures.

The following are commonly-treated diseases by a paediatric surgeon:  

  • Congenital heart disease, a condition where there are abnormalities in the heart that are commonly experienced by children since birth. This disease causes an abnormal heart structure and several symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and fatigue.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a type of congenital heart disease that causes blood vessels that serve as the fetal respiratory system in the womb to remain open until the baby is born. This condition causes the child to have a quick heartbeat, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
  • Intestinal atresia, a congenital defect that causes a complete blockage in the baby’s digestive system due to a narrowed or cut part of the intestine
  • Esophageal atresia, a disorder that causes the baby to have difficulty breathing and swallowing. This occurs because the esophagus does not develop properly. Generally considered as a birth defect.
  • Tracheoesophageal fistula, a disorder that also occurs in the esophagus and trachea. This disease causes the esophagus which serves as a food channel from the mouth to the stomach, to connect with the trachea which functions as a passage for air to enter the lungs. As a result, the child may experience impaired stomach and lung function.
  • Diaphragmatic hernia, a birth defect where a gap is created between the chest and the abdominal cavity. This gap can lead to shortness of breath and a fast heartbeat.
  • Omphalocele, a disorder found in in the abdominal cavity that sticks out through the opening in the navel – a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The intestines, liver, or other organs stick outside of the belly through the belly button.This disorder can cause impaired organ function due to lack of blood supply in the organ that is sticking out.
  • Wilms tumor, a tumor that affects the kidneys. The appearance of this tumor is characterized by symptoms of constipation, abdominal pain, and fever.
  • Intussusception, bowel obstruction in which a part of the intestine folds into the section next to it. This disorder can cause indigestion, circulatory disorders, swelling, and pain.
  • Neuroblastoma, cancer developing from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body. This cancer is characterized by symptoms of decreased appetite, fever, then followed by weight loss.
  • Pyloric stenosis, a digestive disorder caused by thickening and enlargement of the pyloric muscles which prevents food moving from the stomach to the intestine.
  • Midgut volvulus, an intestinal disorder that occurs when the fetus is still in the womb. The malrotated position of the fetus causes the intestines to be twisted when the baby is born. Children who experience this disorder may show symptoms of vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Kidney and urinary tract disorders, include hypospadias, kidney stones, epispadia, bladder stones, urinary tract infections.
  • Nerve brain disorders, include severe head injury, cerebral hemorrhage, and neuroblastoma.
  • Skin disorders, include melanoma to severe burns due to accidents.
  • Intensive care, include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fluid and electrolyte therapy, management of acid-base disorders, and intensive monitoring.

Medical Procedures That Can Be Performed By Paediatric Surgeons

As specialists who provide health services to children, paediatric surgeons have the competence based on medical science, clinical skills, as well as health management principles:

  • Conducting a series of physical and supporting tests, medical interviews, and tracking the patient’s medical history in order to achieve the right diagnosis.
  • Providing a valid, clear, detailed, and honest explanation regarding the surgical procedure that the child will undergo. Paediatric surgeons must explain the objectives, purposes, benefits, risks, and side effects of the determined medical procedure.
  • Once the diagnosis is provided, the paediatric surgeon will carry out clinical procedures according to the patient’s authority and needs. The same thing applies to the case of medical emergencies.
  • Providing an explanation of the indications of the prescribed medications, how they work, the dosage used, and how it should be applied to the patient.
  • Handling paediatric surgical patients in various areas such as operating rooms, polyclinics, treatment rooms, Intensive Care Units (ICU), and Emergency Departments.
  • Not only responsible for patient care, paediatric surgeons are also responsible for educating the patient’s family and the community on health development for paediatric surgery patients.

A surgical procedure a child has to undergo comes with risks that need to be considered. There are various side effects of surgical procedures that differ from patient to patient, depending on the type of procedure performed and the case treatment. The effects that may arise are scar tissue pain, redness, and swelling. This effect can be treated with pain relievers with the right amount of dosage for the child’s needs.

When to See a Paediatric Surgeon? 

Arranging an appointment with a paediatric surgeon can usually be done after the patient has received a referral from a paediatrician or a general practitioner who has previously handled the patient. In general, a referral is necessary because the child must undergo surgical procedures to treat the disease. Paediatric patients who will be treated with surgical procedures must be accompanied and prepared for their mental condition. This is an important way to overcome fear in children, pre and post surgery.

The following are several conditions that call for a paediatric surgeon’s expertise:

  • Injuries and severe accidents
  • Birth defects
  • Chronic pain that can only be treated through surgery
  • Certain diseases and disorders that cannot be treated with medication.

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