Pediatric girl patient with dad eating popsicle

Our pediatric surgeons have advanced training in general and thoracic surgery to treat a wide range of conditions in children, from newborns to young adults.

General and thoracic surgeons help with issues of the chest wall, esophagus, airway, diaphragm, abdomen and groin.

Nearly half of all the operations performed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta involve a pediatric general surgeon. Whatever your child’s needs, we will work together with other specialists to provide safe, comprehensive surgical care.

Dr. Durham and patient talk before  surgery.

What are the types of surgeries and procedures we perform?

Our team performs a wide breadth of surgeries and procedures to treat infants (including newborns), children and teens with a variety of conditions, including: 

  • Abdominal trauma (from accidents or impact)
  • Abdominal tumors: cancerous and noncancerous, including:
    • Kidney tumors, also known as renal tumors
    • Wilms tumors (nephroblastoma), cancerous tumors that start in the kidneys
    • Liver tumors
    • Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that forms in certain types of nerve tissue
    • Bile duct (biliary) and pancreatic tumors
    • Colon and small bowel tumors
    • Ovarian tumors, masses, cysts and lesions of the ovaries
  • Anal diseases including hemorrhoids, fissures, polyps, bleeding, perianal abscess, fistula-in-ano and rectal prolapse
  • Appendicitis: a painful swelling or infection of the appendix
  • Bariatric (weight loss) surgery
  • Biliary atresia: a chronic, progressive liver problem that needs urgent surgical attention
  • Diaphragmatic abnormalities:
    • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a hole in the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity); can be a birth defect or from trauma
    • Diaphragmatic paralysis, diaphragmatic pacing and plication are performed
  • Atresia of the intestines:
    • Duodenal atresia/stenosis, congenital blockage or a complete closing of the duodenum (first part of the intestines), causing vomiting in a newborn
    • Small bowel, colonic or rectal atresia, congenital blocking of the intestines that causes a bowel blockage
  • Gallbladder diseases: conditions of the gallbladder including cholelithiasis (gallstones), cholecystitis (infection), biliary dyskinesia (pain)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD): when the stomach’s contents back up into the esophagus
  • Hernia (umbilical or inguinal): holes in the abdominal wall or groin that cause bulging and pain
  • Hepatobiliary cysts/choledochal cysts: rare congenital dilations (enlargements) of the bile ducts (liver drainage system)
  • Hirschsprung disease: a birth defect where there is an absence of nerve cells at the anus and/or colon that cause constipation and difficulty stooling
  • Anorectal anomalies:
    • Imperforate anus: a birth defect resulting in a misplaced or absent anal opening
    • Cloacal abnormality: a birth defect in which the urinary tract, vagina and rectum form one exit out of the body
    • Vertebral defects: anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheoesophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities, VACTERL anomalies; associated anomalies of the spine, heart, kidneys, esophagus and limbs
    • Urogenital sinus: a defect in females that occurs during fetal development
    • Anal stenosis: a narrowing of the anal canal that makes it difficult to pass stool, including Currarino triad, a rare congenital disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Obstructions of the colon or large intestine, cancerous or noncancerous
  • Undescended testes: when one or more of the testes have not passed down into the scrotum
  • Intussusception: when one portion of the bowel slides into the next
  • Meckel’s diverticulum: a congenital outpouching or bulge in the lower part of the small intestine
  • Pyloric stenosis: a narrowing of the opening between the stomach and the small intestine, which causes forceful vomiting that may lead to dehydration

  • Thyroid disease: cancerous and noncancerous lesions of the thyroid
  • Lymph node disease: cancerous and noncancerous enlargements of lymph nodes
  • Brachial cleft abnormality: a mass of abnormally formed tissue in the neck
  • Thyroglossal duct cyst: a painful cystic swelling in the neck
  • Cystic hygroma: a mass in the head or neck that results from an abnormal formation of lymphatic vessels that help carry tissue fluids to the lymph nodes and back to the bloodstream
  • Head and neck tumors (cancerous and noncancerous)
  • Torticollis: which occurs when an infant’s neck muscle is shortened, causing the neck to twist

  • Esophageal anomalies:
    • Esophageal atresia (with or without tracheoesophageal fistula): a congenital lesion in which the esophagus is interrupted and does not connect the mouth to the stomach; sometimes the esophagus is formed with a connection to the airway that can cause breathing difficulties
    • Esophageal stenosis: a narrowing of the esophagus that can cause swallowing difficulties
    • Esophageal foreign bodies: when coins and button batteries (and other small objects) are swallowed and need to be removed
  • Pectus or chest wall deformities: a structural problem of the chest requiring treatment
    • Pectus excavatum: a condition in which a person’s breastbone is sunken into his or her chest
    • Pectus carinatum: an uncommon birth defect in which a child’s breastbone protrudes outward abnormally
  • Lung and mediastinum:
    • Airway foreign bodies
    • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors of the chest and lungs
    • Congenital lung abnormalities:
      • Congenital pulmonary airway malformations (CPAM): a mass of abnormal fetal lung tissue that forms during pregnancy
      • Pulmonary sequestration: a cystic piece of abnormal lung tissue that doesn’t function like normal lung tissue
      • Congenital lobar emphysema: a rare congenital abnormality characterized by overinflation of a pulmonary lobe
      • Foregut duplication cysts: benign malformations found along the esophagus or stomach
      • Bronchogenic cysts: congenital malformations of the bronchial tree

  • Circumcision
  • Inguinal hernias: congenital holes in the abdominal wall allowing swelling to occur in the groin
  • Ovarian tumors and torsion: cancerous and noncancerous tumors arising from the ovary, or when the ovary twists and causes pain
  • Pediatric gynecology
  • Testicular tumors and torsion: cancerous and noncancerous tumors arising from the testis, or when the testis twists and causes pain
  • Undescended testes: when one or more of the testes have not passed down into the scrotum
  • Urogenital sinus: a congenital abnormality in which the urinary and vaginal tracts form into one opening

  • Ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) procedures:
  • Assisting with delivery of babies who have a congenital airway obstruction
  • Partnering with OB-GYNs and otolaryngologists (ENTs) to ensure safe delivery of and emergent care for these newborns
  • Neonatal/congenital malformations
  • Peritoneal dialysis access: the placing of catheters in the abdomen to allow for peritoneal dialysis
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsies: a sampling of lymph nodes to detect lymphatic metastases in various cancers
  • Splenic surgery: partial or complete removal of the spleen, splenic cysts or masses
  • Surgical critical care
  • Trauma surgery
  • Treatment of cellulitis: a deep bacterial infection of the skin
  • Treatment of tissue tumors: cancerous and noncancerous tumors, lesions, or masses on any site in the body
  • Treatment of skin disorders: spitz nevus, melanoma and other skin lesions
  • Vascular access: the placement of central venous lines, ports and dialysis catheters for cancers, long-term feeding and dialysis

Our general and thoracic surgeons know that collaboration is important in caring for children and teens with medical conditions that affect different parts of their bodies. We work closely with other specialists to provide unique, specialized programs and clinics.

  • Aerodigestive Center: Provides evaluations and treatment for children with disorders involving the upper digestive tract, airway and respiratory systems.
  • Diaphragm Pacing Program: Provides the diaphragm pacing system for children with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). This unique treatment helps improve a child’s breathing, possibly eliminating the need for a traditional ventilator either part time or full time.
  • ECMO Center: Provides cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs cannot work on their own.
  • Pelvic and Anorectal Care Program: Provides complete surgical and medical care for infants and children born with anorectal malformations, Hirschsprung disease, constipation or fecal soiling.  
  • Strong4Life Clinic: Staffed by a team of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and exercise physiologists who work with children and families to treat or prevent obesity. The clinic promotes an active lifestyle, healthy eating and other preventive measures and also offers a surgical weight loss program.
  • Vascular Anomalies Clinic: One of the only centers in the country to offer specialized, coordinated care for children with vascular anomalies.
  • Fetal Care Center: Collaborates with obstetricians and perinatologists to assist women and families experiencing high-risk pregnancies in developing a comprehensive care plan, from evaluation, and diagnosis to postnatal surgical intervention and care.

Many surgical procedures can be done with minimally invasive surgery. We will talk to you about surgical options for your child.

What is microscopic surgery?

During minimally invasive surgery, our surgeons use a tube with a camera attached to go into a child’s body and send images to a TV monitor. The images guide the surgeon through the surgery. To perform the surgery, the surgeon uses small, thin tools that go through small incisions in a child’s body.

  • In laparoscopic surgery, the tube is passed through the abdomen, usually the belly button. 
  • In thoracoscopic surgery, the tube is passed through a small incision in the chest.

Our surgeons are highly experienced in these methods and perform them every day.

What are some common minimally invasive surgeries?

As technology improves, we are able to perform more surgeries by minimally invasive methods. We most commonly perform:

  • Appendectomy, removal of the appendix
  • Cholecystectomy, removal of the gallbladder
  • Fundoplication, surgery that strengthens the valve between the esophagus and the stomach to stop acid from backing up
  • Hernia exploration, a procedure to determine if a child has a hernia
  • Pyloromyotomy, to treat pyloric stenosis
  • Splenectomy, removal of the spleen

Are there other innovative, minimally invasive treatments?

Some examples of the minimally invasive treatments we offer include:

  • Intra-operative MRI (iMRI), which allows our surgeons to clearly and effectively navigate the digestive system. The imaging helps surgeons pinpoint the correct placement of new tissue to repair or replace.
  • Single-site colectomy, to treat life-threatening ulcerative colitis, a disease that inflames the large intestine.
  • For some conditions, your child may be able to wear a brace as a treatment. For example, our orthotics and prosthetics team can create a custom brace or compressive brace to treat a child with pectus carinatum, or pigeon chest, in which part of the sternum, or breastbone, protrudes.The custom brace consists of a front pad over the area of the protrusion and a back pad between the shoulder blades. Thin metal bars connect the two pads to apply pressure to the protrusion. 

Dr. Clifton holds a baby patient before  surgery.

At Children’s, our team is 100% committed to kids. Our pediatric doctors and nurses understand that children’s medical and emotional needs are different from adults’. That is why we use specialized equipment and techniques to provide the care kids need to thrive. Every member of our team has just one focus—help kids and teens get better faster.

Children’s Physician Group–Pediatric Surgery

Physician leadership

General surgeons and advanced practitioners

Egleston Hospital-based providers
Contact us: 404-785-8787

Scottish Rite Hospital-based providers
Contact us: 404-785-6895