General and Thoracic Surgery: Conditions and Procedures

General and thoracic surgeons perform a wide range of surgeries and treat many types of conditions. Some of the most common include:

  • Achalasia

    The esophagus — the tube that brings food through the throat to the stomach — cannot push food down toward the stomach.
  • Adolescent Breast Disease

    Some adolescent females develop abnormal lumps, bumps, or lesions. Surgeons at Children’s treat medical causes (not purely cosmetic) of these abnormalities.

  • Appendicitis

    The appendix — a small organ attached to the large intestine — becomes blocked. This causes problems with blood flow and swelling, causing sudden pain. If left untreated, it can burst and spread infection throughout the abdomen.
  • Cancer

    Certain cells in the body grow uncontrollably and form lumps of tissue (tumors), which spread throughout the body.

    The pediatric surgeons at Children’s provide the full spectrum of cancer treatment, including surgery for liver tumors, kidney tumors, soft tissue tumors, and solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma.

  • Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation (CPAM)

    A benign (non-cancerous) tumor that is filled with fluid or other material forms in the lung tissue. This is a rare congenital birth defect.
  • Colorectal Conditions (Colorectal Surgery)

    Colorectal surgery focuses on the colon and the rectum. The colon is the longest part of the large intestine. It is a tube at the end of the digestive tract where the body makes and stores stool. When the colon is full, the stool is passed to the rectum — the end of the large intestine that is closest to the anus and holds stool until it is ready to leave the body.
  • Crohn's Disease

    Parts of the digestive system become swollen. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the digestive system that’s affected, but main symptoms include belly cramps, fatigue, and diarrhea.
  • Dermoid Cyst

    This is a non-cancerous tumor that contains a cyst. The cyst is filled with tissues that are usually found in outer layers of the skin, such as oil or sweat glands, or elements of teeth or hair.
  • Empyema

    Pus collects in the pleural space — the space between the inner surface of the chest wall and the lung. It can cause chest pain, dry cough, shortness of breath, fever and chills, or excessive sweating.
  • Gallstones

    The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile, which is a fluid that helps the liver digest fat. When substances in bile harden, they can form stones. These stones may get stuck and block the flow of bile, and this blockage can cause upper abdominal pain.
  • Gastroschisis

    A birth defect (present at birth) where there is a hole in a baby’s abdominal wall, which causes the intestines to stick out through the outside of the body. If the intestines are damaged, the baby may have trouble absorbing food.
  • Hydrocele

    A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac in a newborn infant’s scrotum. It can cause swollen testicles.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease — Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both involve long-term swelling in the digestive tract, which can eventually cause damage to the tract.
  • Inguinal Hernia

    This is a hernia — tissue that bulges out of a weak spot in the abdominal wall — in the groin area. An inguinal hernia can cause pain or discomfort in the groin, or an enlarged or swollen testicle in boys.
  • Intestinal Obstruction

    A blockage stops food or liquid from being passed through the small intestine or large intestine (colon). If left untreated, an obstruction can lead to tissue death or infection. Surgery can relieve the blockage, allowing food or liquid to resume passing through the intestines normally.
  • Intussusception

    One part of the intestine slides into another part. This can block food from passing through the intestine and cut off blood supply to part of the intestine. A hole can develop, which could lead to dehydration, infection, or shock.
  • Lung Disease

    A child may need pulmonary surgery if they have certain problems with their lungs. At Children’s, our surgeons offer video-assisted surgeries (VATs), which diagnose and treat chest problems with minimal pain and scarring.
  • Neuroblastoma

    This is a cancer that forms in nerve tissue. It often begins in early childhood, and sometimes before a baby is even born.
  • Omphalocele

    This is a defect where there is a whole in the abdominal wall, usually causing a child’s intestines to stick out through the hole. If the hole is very large, the liver or organs can stick out, too. Omphaloceles develop before a baby is born.
  • Pancreatic Conditions (Pancreatectomy)

    A pancreatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part or all of the pancreas — the pear-shaped organ in the abdomen that helps with digestion and regulating blood sugar. It is used to treat several types of pancreatic disease, such as pancreatic cancer, inflammation, or non-cancerous lesions that are producing an excessive amount of hormones and causing harmful side effects.
  • Pectus Excavatum

    The rib cage doesn’t form correctly while a baby is still developing in the womb. This gives the chest a sunken or caved-in appearance.
  • Pyloric Stenosis

    The pylorus is the opening from the stomach into the small intestine. Pyloric stenosis is when the pylorus narrows, which can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, constant hunger, dehydration, or inability to gain or lose weight.
  • Severe Obesity (Bariatric (Weight Loss) Surgery)

    Bariatric surgery a procedure that is performed on teenagers who have participated in our Weight and Wellness program, and have not been able to lose weight despite diet and exercise changes. Children’s has surgeons who have been performing this surgery since 2009.

    Bariatric surgery reduces the size of the stomach. This limits how much your teen can eat, and how many nutrients their body can absorb. It is a very effective procedure — the average teen loses about 90 pounds after surgery. They also see improvements in obesity-related conditions they may have had before surgery, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

    Even though bariatric surgery is effective, it is not a cure by itself. Your teen will need to lead a healthy lifestyle by staying physically active and eating a nutritious diet.

    Learn more about the Weight and Wellness program.

  • Thyroid And Endocrine Conditions

    The endocrine system is a network of eight glands that make hormones. Hormones travel through the bloodstream to the tissues and organs that are responsible for telling body parts how to form and function. These hormones control growth, development, reproduction, sexual function, mood, and metabolism (how the body converts food and drink to energy). If your child’s body makes too much or too little of a hormone, they may have an endocrine disorder.

    Our surgeons can perform surgery for several different endocrine conditions, but the vast majority of our patients have problems with their thyroid — the gland in the neck that produces the hormone that controls metabolism. This hormone helps the body use energy to keep the heart, muscles, brains, and other organs functioning correctly.

    In addition to thyroid problems, we also perform surgery for multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes. These are rare disorders in which either cancerous or noncancerous tumors — masses of cells that lump together — develop on several endocrine glands. MEN can also occur if several endocrine glands grow excessively without forming any tumors.

    The procedures we perform most often include:

    • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: We use a very thin needle attached to a syringe to take a sample of tissue from your child’s thyroid. The sample is then examined under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.
    • Thyroidectomy: We remove the entire thyroid (total thyroidectomy) or part of the thyroid (partial thyroidectomy). This may be recommended if your child has thyroid cancer or a noncancerous tumor that is causing symptoms. After a total thyroidectomy, your child will probably need to take thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of their life.
    • Parathyroidectomy: The parathyroid glands are just below the thyroid, and they help control calcium levels in the blood. Your child may need one or more of these glands removed if they are causing hyperparathyroidism — producing too much parathyroid hormone, causing symptoms such as bone pain, nausea, or kidney stones.
    • Neck dissection: This procedure involves removing lymph nodes — small structures filled with immune cells that fight infection by destroying germs in lymph fluid. Your child may need neck dissection if they have cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
    • Adrenalectomy: The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys, and produce steroid hormones (e.g., cortisol), hormones that can be changed into testosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Your child may need one or both adrenal glands removed if there is a lump that is cancerous, looks like it could be cancerous, or is causing harmful side effects (e.g., high blood pressure).
  • Ulcerative Colitis

    This is a condition where ulcers (sores) and swelling develop in the lining of the rectum and colon. Symptoms usually include pain in the abdomen, and blood and pus in diarrhea.
  • Umbilical Hernia

    An umbilical hernia occurs when there is a bulge in the lining of the abdomen or part of the abdominal organs, right around the belly button. It happens when the muscle that the umbilical cord passes through doesn’t completely close after birth.

Preparing for Surgery


How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself) for Surgery

Get your child ready for an upcoming procedure, from packing to post surgical care.

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Your Child’s Hospital Stay

Learn about what to pack, the day-to-day routine, and the services and resources available to your family at Children’s.

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Anesthesia helps your child avoid pain and possibly fall asleep during surgery. Here’s how we make sure to give anesthesia safely.

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Support Services For Your Child

We offer support services to address your family’s emotional, financial, developmental, spiritual, and educational needs.

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