Pediatric surgeons, as the name suggests, are surgeons who specialize in the surgical treatment of children, infants, toddlers, teenagers, young adults, and even fetuses. Pediatric surgeons are trained to specialize in several common ailments that may plague people at young ages, including congenital malformations, and childhood tumors. Aside from these, pediatric surgeons are meant to perform general surgery on young children that may have been afflicted by other general diseases, and even children who have been involved in accidents.
Pediatric surgeons undergo one of the longest training pathways in the medical world. Pediatric surgeons undergo a whopping nine years of training, which includes medical school proper, a residency in general surgery, and a fellowship in pediatric surgery. After which, they are meant to undergo two certifications, one for general surgery, and one for pediatric surgery. The reasons for this highly selective process are two-fold: Firstly, pediatric surgery, as opposed to other surgery specializations, does not focus on a specific body organ or system, but rather the entire body. This is why pediatric surgeons undergo a general surgery residency before their pediatric surgery residency. Secondly, a person’s body undergoes vast changes throughout their development, so it stands to reason that pediatric surgeons also need to learn on how to operate on these different development stages.
Indeed, one of the hardest parts of a pediatric surgeon’s job is to maintain care in operating on someone as young as a child, or even as fragile as a baby. It’s because of their young ages that the work of a pediatric surgeon is so crucial. What they have in their hands are very young lives with limitless potential, and as such, it is vital that their operations are executed flawlessly. One wrong move may adversely affect a child for life, and it’s because of this possibility that the training process for pediatric surgeons is as competitive and strict as it is.
In the United States, birth defects affect one in every thirty-three babies born each year. If we expand that to the world, this means that each year, roughly four million babies are born with some kind of congenital malformation. And of those four million, one-fifth of them are life threatening. This makes the job that pediatric surgeons do extremely valuable. The conditions that fall under congenital malformations are broad. They range from defects in internal organs, including most commonly the heart, lungs, intestines, and rectum. Also included are deformities that manifest on the outside, such as childhood tumors, lymphangioma, hydrocephalus, and cleft lips and palates.
Thus, most of the work of pediatric surgeons are done on infants, and toddlers. The mentioned complications, and so many more, have been rendered treatable and correctable thanks to the strides in modern medicine. Pediatric surgeons are the ones in charge of helping these babies get a chance at a normal life in the future thanks to their defects being corrected. In fact, pediatric surgeons are most likely the cause of the most amount of lives saved, thanks to the shocking commonality of birth defects, which are counteracted by the efforts of pediatric surgeons.
Aside from babies, pediatric surgeons also routinely work on children and preteens. This should come as no surprise, seeing as children are often reckless and get themselves in trouble. In fact, this extends beyond just simple freak accidents due to roughhousing, as injury is the leading cause of death within children, with falls and drowning being the leading manifestation of said injuries. Pediatric surgeons step up to rescue these children in surgical procedures such as cranial and neck surgery for falls, and pulmonary surgery to drain water from their lungs in the cases of drowning victims. In these cases, pediatric surgeons are trained to work fast and safely in order to ensure the child’s survival.
Aside from accidents, pediatric surgeons also involve themselves with treating children with other diseases like cancerous tumors and other progressive diseases. Disease knows no age, and while it is true that most of the worst diseases often come during late adulthood, there are some cases where children get seriously ill. This is more than just a matter of performing surgery on them in the hopes of getting them better. There is also the added stake of the fact that the patient is a child, and thus their young bodies would respond differently to these procedures, and pediatric surgeons must be aware of these factors. The fact they are children also provides added motivation to pediatric surgeons to complete the operation successfully.
Teenagers on the other hand are much closer to adults than children. Most teenagers are at, or even completed puberty, so their body structure is more or less what it should be as an adult. However, teenagers are still intrinsically different from their adult counterparts, mainly when it comes to hormonal imbalances. As we all know, puberty introduces a cocktail of many different hormones meant to stimulate our sexual desires in preparation for maturity. As such, pediatric surgeons also need to take this into consideration. Pediatric surgeons are trained to know the correct amount of dosages of the different drugs their patients must take in order to be safe during the surgery, and a hormonally imbalanced teen makes for another factor in the riskiness of pediatric surgery.
Also on teenagers, teens, more so than children, are also at risk of grievous injury. As teenagers, they are more prone to more dangerous stunts and dares, which borders on reckless. Many teens end up going outside for get-togethers with friends, and it’s often inevitable they try something “cool” with their bikes, or skateboards. This would inevitably cause them to be injured, but thankfully, pediatric surgeons are here to patch them up. A darker side of a teen’s recklessness however are teens’ proclivities for violence. Teenagers naturally seek companionship and camaraderie, and some misguided souls tend to get mixed up in the wrong crowd. Because of this, gang-involved teenagers get mixed up with drugs and violence, which often leads to them getting shot, assaulted, or overdosing. Pediatric surgeons however, are also well-equipped to deal with these issues should the need arise.
In short, pediatric surgeons are medical professionals who specialize in the treatment of all people for all complications in the early stages of their life. They are the guardians of the youth today, and are responsible for the preservation of our future for many generations to come.