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Types of Surgery for Children
What is surgical diagnosis?
You and your child's doctor will discuss surgery as a way to correct your child's health problem. This decision will be based on careful evaluation of your child's medical history and medical tests, such as blood tests, X-rays, MRI, CT scan, electrocardiogram, or other lab work done during diagnosis.
What are the different types of surgery?
Surgery can be classified as major or minor, depending on the seriousness of the illness, the parts of the body affected, the complexity of the operation, and the expected recovery time.
Major surgery. These are surgeries of the head, neck, chest, and some surgeries on the belly (abdomen). The recovery time can be lengthy and may involve a stay in intensive care or several days in the hospital. There is a higher risk of complications after such surgeries. In children, types of major surgery may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Removal of brain tumors
Correction of bone malformations of the skull and face
Repair of congenital heart disease, transplantation of organs, and repair of intestinal defects
Correction of spinal abnormalities and treatment of serious injuries
Correction of problems in fetal development of the lungs, intestines, diaphragm, or anus.
Minor surgery. Some surgeries that children undergo are considered minor. The recovery time is short and children return to their usual activities rapidly. These surgeries are most often done as an outpatient, and children can return home the same day. Complications from these types of surgeries are rare. Examples of the most common types of minor surgeries may include:
Elective surgery. Elective surgery does not necessarily mean the surgery is optional. It simply means that the procedure is planned in advance. These are procedures you decide your child should undergo, which may be helpful, and may or may not be essential. An example might be to have a birthmark removed, to circumcise your male infant, or to have a spinal fusion to correct severe curvature of the spine.
Urgent or emergency surgery. This type of surgery is done in response to an urgent medical need, such as the correction of a life-threatening congenital heart defect or the repair of injured internal organs after a car accident.
Online Medical Reviewer:
MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer:
Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed:
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