Angie's LIST Guide to
Pediatric Thoracic Surgery

Doctors who specialize in pediatric thoracic surgery perform operations on young patients to treat medical conditions within the structure of the chest wall, including the lungs, esophagus and diaphragm.


Photo collage of babies and doctors.
Children often are diagnosed with illnesses and conditions that affect adults, but because of their special needs, they are often referred to pediatric specialists. Specialists in all areas can provide treatment plans to improve health and quality of life.

What's a pediatric thoracic surgeon?

Pediatric thoracic surgeons who aren't certified to do cardiac procedures primarily focus on treating conditions that affect the organs within the chest wall, including the lungs, esophagus and diaphragm.

Young patients who suffer from pneumonia and develop complications as a result may need the services of a pediatric thoracic surgeon.

Doctors who specialize in this field of medicine may do biopsies to remove samples of body tissue if they suspect that a patient may have cancer and will also treat congenital abnormalities and remove tumors.

Training to become a pediatric thoracic surgeon is intensive and involves many years of post-graduate work and a residency program. In addition to passing a national examination to become licensed, pediatric thoracic surgeons can also become board certified after completing both a written and oral examination. The tests rate doctors on several key factors, including their level of clinical knowledge and skills. Ongoing education is a common requirement for doctors in order to keep informed on advancements in the field of medicine.

Pediatric thoracic procedures

The types of procedures performed by pediatric thoracic surgeons focus on the chest cavity, also referred to as the thorax. This area of the body includes the trachea and windpipe in addition to the pleural membranes surrounding the lungs.

Some of the more commonly practiced surgical procedures in this field of medicine include treating disorders and diseases affecting the esophagus and lungs.

Pediatric thoracic surgeons usually treat young patients who have suffered chest trauma to repair the damage. As a result, these doctors are oftentimes treating patients in hospital emergency rooms who have suffered traumatic injuries to the chest area.

However, many procedures performed by pediatric thoracic surgeons involve less invasive methods and techniques on their young patients. The operations and procedures may use smaller incisions, laparoscopic tools, fiber optic cameras or robotics in the effort to minimize trauma and stress and to optimize a speedier recovery.

During surgery, the area that is operated on is usually smaller in size, which results in less scarring, reduced levels of pain and quicker healing for the patient.

The advantages of newer, gentler techniques used today in pediatric thoracic surgery work toward reducing the time a patient has to spend in the hospital recuperating from operations that would otherwise involve more cutting and higher levels of pain. This also helps to reduce stress experienced by the young patient.

Choosing a thoracic surgeon

If you know that your child will need the services of a pediatric thoracic surgeon, the first thing you need to do is contact your health insurance company to make sure that medical specialists are covered. Depending on your policy, you may need a referral from your primary care physician in order to have your health care provider pay for treatment.

Read through the listing of doctors in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. The advantage in using the listings directory is that it will save you time and most doctors are posted by medical specialty with contact information so you can make your initial appointment.

Carefully research the thoracic surgeons you are considering. Verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see member reviews and rankings.

Prior to your consultation with the pediatric thoracic surgeon, have your child's primary care physician transfer your child's medical history. This is especially important if your child is currently being treated for any medical conditions.

Arrive early for your appointment and be prepared to complete any necessary medical forms that will be required since your child is a new patient.

The examination may include X-rays, ultrasounds and tests to help the doctor diagnose any underlying conditions and diseases that are affecting your child's health.


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