Pediatric Surgery: Why choose Mayo Clinic?

When your child needs surgery, it can be overwhelming and sometimes scary. At Mayo Clinic Children's Center, our highly skilled surgeons apply years of experience and specialized training to offer individualized care for your child and your family.

We don't just consider a patient a diagnosis. We consider them as a child and a family, and we try to take care of the entirety of that child and family, not just their, their medical problem.

We also are within the greater Mayo Clinic and can draw on those resources to help us heal children and their families.

With pediatric surgery, rare is not rare in the sense that that's our expertise.

The Children's Center at Mayo Clinic is the special place where the patient and their family are the only thing that matters and we're all united in that. The multidisciplinary model of care is something that we approach every patient with and I think is one of the distinguishing things about care here at Mayo.

We have specialized training in not only general surgery, but in additional specific pediatric training. So when you see a surgeon who's specialized in pediatric surgery, you'll have that expertise as well as urology, surgical oncology, pediatric oncology, and access to pediatric anesthesia, for example. And I think we apply that to all of our patients, whether they're zero or 18.

It's our experience, the number of patients we've seen and evaluated, and just continuing to try to provide the best care to these families. And ultimately our goal is to get them back home and getting them back to a happy, healthy life.

As part of Mayo Clinic's Children's Center, the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers the latest diagnostic and treatment methods. The mission of the Division of Pediatric Surgery is to provide the highest quality child and family-centered care in an environment that focuses on best practices, excellence in education, and cutting-edge research on a national and international level.

With care customized to meet the individual needs of each child, Mayo's skilled pediatric surgeons operate on the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, offering minimally invasive surgery when possible. Other Mayo divisions offer additional types of surgery for children.

You can be assured that Mayo's Division of Pediatric Surgery will provide expert and family-focused care using a multispecialty team approach.

Why choose Mayo Clinic for pediatric surgery

  • Comprehensive care for complex conditions. Pediatric experts from a variety of specialties quickly come together as a team to thoroughly test and evaluate your child — no matter how complicated the issues — providing rapid results and the best treatment plan tailored to your child's needs.
  • Extensive experience in minimally invasive surgeries. Mayo Clinic's pediatric surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery whenever possible. Compared with open surgery, this approach typically results in smaller incisions, less pain, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery for your child. In abdominal surgeries, a single, nearly invisible incision placed within the belly button is often an option, with excellent results and improved cosmetic appearance compared with other approaches.
  • Advanced technology. Mayo Clinic offers ultrafast CT, MRI and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) scanning technology. All CT scanners are set so that your child receives minimal exposure to radiation. Proton beam therapy precisely targets tumors and avoids healthy tissue, safely delivering radiation directly to the tumors. Mayo Clinic uses the latest technology to locate exactly where tumors are in the body (localize tumors) both before and during surgery. Surgical planning is aided by the creation of 3D models.
  • The latest pain management techniques. These methods include, for example, cryoablation for pain control after chest surgery. This procedure involves inserting a probe through the skin to freeze and numb the nerves under the ribs, blocking pain signals. This significantly reduces pain and the need for opioids after surgery.

Areas of expertise

Pectus excavatum treatment

At Mayo Clinic Children's Center, our team of highly skilled pediatric surgeons uses innovative, minimally invasive surgical techniques focused on outcomes, safety and pain management to help your child recover faster and with less discomfort.

I would describe pectus excavatum as a congenital chest wall anomaly that causes the sternum to be concave. And it's an abnormality of the costal cartilages, not necessarily the sternum. So you see a pectus excavatum get worse during the growth phase of a child.

Patients can breathe better after having this corrected. It also improves their self-esteem.

The surgery is very routine here at Mayo Clinic. We do 30 to 50 a year. We've done over 500 since we started doing these procedures.

And because we've added cryotherapy to our pain management program, we've gone from a four to five day hospital stay now to an overnight procedure. So people can come in, have their surgery and go home the next day.

We use a minimally invasive cryoablation probe to freeze the intercostal nerves temporarily, which results in patients having a very low or no opioid requirement after surgery. They're able to ambulate the same day and they're able to go home the next day, often without any opioids at home either. It's really revolutionized pain management after this procedure.

The Children's Center at Mayo Clinic is a multidisciplinary group of people. It's not just pediatricians.

We have the expertise of multiple world experts that will work with us to provide the expert level of care that you deserve.

Ultimately, our goal is to get them back home and getting, getting them back to a happy, healthy life.

  • Chest wall surgery. Mayo pediatric surgeons often use minimally invasive surgery to correct a sunken chest (pectus excavatum). This means smaller incisions, minimal or hidden scars, and a shorter recovery time.
  • Cancer surgery. Comprehensive pediatric surgical care is provided for many types of cancer in children, including but not limited to cancer of the liver and kidney, as well as adrenal cancer, ovarian cancer, lung tumors and sarcomas.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease surgery. This includes J-pouch surgery (ileoanal anastomosis) for a diseased colon due to ulcerative colitis or familial adenomatous polyposis. These surgeries are usually done with minimally invasive approaches, which means smaller incisions, minimal or hidden scars, and a shorter recovery time.
  • Surgery for congenital disorders. Pediatric surgery can benefit children who are born with certain disorders, including congenital diaphragmatic hernia, gastroschisis, omphalocele, intestinal atresia, imperforate anus, Hirschsprung's disease, lung cysts, esophageal atresia, long QT syndrome and other disorders. Whenever possible, pediatric surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery.
  • Surgery for vascular malformations. Children whose blood and lymphatic vessels don't develop properly may need pediatric surgery. Pediatric surgery services are part of the comprehensive approach to care in Mayo's Vascular Anomalies Clinic for a wide range of vascular malformations.
  • General pediatric surgery. This includes surgery to remove the appendix (appendectomy), colon (colectomy), gallbladder (cholecystectomy), spleen (splenectomy) and other organs. It includes surgery for inguinal hernia and umbilical hernia. Also, pediatric surgeons can construct an artificial opening in the stomach to introduce food (gastrostomy) and perform vascular access procedures to reduce the need for repeated needle sticks. Whenever possible, surgeons use minimally invasive approaches, often with just a single incision.

Team approach and coordinated care

For decades, Mayo Clinic has been offering a full range of pediatric general surgery services. Highly skilled pediatric surgeons lead experienced surgical teams that include pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric surgical nurses.

Pediatric surgery specialists coordinate care as needed with a wide range of areas and experts in the Mayo Clinic Children's Center, including:

  • Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. The American College of Surgeons verifies that Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital has a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, providing the highest level of surgical care to children with serious injuries and significantly increasing the chances of survival.
  • Fetal care team. The Mayo Clinic fetal care team uses a coordinated, multispecialty approach to help people who have high-risk pregnancies.
  • Intensive care units. Mayo's Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) specializes in care of critically ill newborns. Mayo's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) specializes in the care of critically ill children and teens.
  • Multispecialty pediatric clinics. Mayo Clinic offers expert care in pediatric clinics, such as the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic and the Pediatric Liver Clinic. Other clinics focus on muscular and skeletal disorders, nervous system diseases, genetic and metabolic disorders, chest and lung-related diseases, and more.
  • Experts in cancer care in children. Highly skilled experts from Mayo Clinic's Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology work as part of a multispecialty team to provide customized care for children and teenagers who have cancer or blood disorders.
  • Pain management experts. With a caring and compassionate focus, Mayo Clinic offers a unique pain management treatment plan using a multispecialty team approach to prevent and relieve your child's pain.
  • Complementary and integrative therapies. Your Mayo doctor or nurse can request complementary therapies — such as massage therapy, music therapy or pet therapy — to help your child during the recovery process.
  • Fertility Preservation Program. Children with cancer who need certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be at risk of impaired fertility. Mayo's Fertility Preservation Program offers several options for fertility preservation, depending on the child's age, stage of puberty, diagnosis and proposed treatment plan.
Nurturing, child-centered care

Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital offers family support space, playrooms, a children's library, tutoring, special events and other services. Child life specialists work alongside the health care team to provide personalized support to your child and family.

Care teams might also include dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists and others, as needed. Child life specialists in the Child Life Program can help you and your child deal with anxieties about illness, medical procedures and hospital care.

For children who may need lifelong follow-up for medical issues, Mayo Clinic provides a smooth transition from pediatric specialists to adult experts.

Advanced surgical and critical care suites

At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, pediatric surgery is performed at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital in highly advanced imaging facilities and operating rooms, designed with the specific needs of children in mind. The health care team includes nurses and other staff who are specially trained in treating infants, children and teenagers.

Proton beam therapy

Mayo Clinic's Proton Beam Therapy Program offers one of the most technologically advanced treatments to children with cancer who have complex tumors. This amazingly precise therapy:

  • Improves control of radiation doses
  • Avoids harm to healthy tissue
  • Shortens treatment times
  • Has fewer side effects

Because proton beam therapy precisely targets cancer, it reduces the risk of injury to nearby structures. This precision can also help preserve current and future fertility in children with cancer.

June 24, 2022