About the Department of Pediatric Surgery
The Department of Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado is home to the largest and most diversely skilled group of pediatric surgeons in the Rocky Mountain region. We perform surgery to treat a range of childhood conditions, from those that occur more commonly such as appendicitis and hernias, to rare conditions that require more complex surgical procedures. We care for children of all ages – from newborns to young adults – and are even able to perform surgery on the fetus.
As one of the only hospitals in the region specifically designed for children, we are devoted to providing a safer, brighter, more stress-free experience for them. From specially designed surgical instruments to the artwork in our recovery rooms, everything we do in our hospital is done with children in mind.
Pediatric surgical procedures per year
Ages ranging from the fetus to young adults
Surgery designed for children
Many parents think that when their child needs an operation like an appendectomy, it’s fine to bring them to a general hospital because it is a common procedure. The more cases we do, however, and the more research we conduct, the more we realize that children benefit from treatment that is specially tailored to them, which is different than the care adults receive.
Our expertise goes beyond simply performing a successful procedure. We explain procedures to kids in a way they can understand and use surgical techniques that help kids heal faster. We also provide recovery rooms where parents can wait so kids have a familiar, loving face to wake up to.
Preparing for surgery: easing fear and stress
The Child Life team at Children’s Colorado works to make the hospital experience the best it can be. They improve the healthcare experience for kids using things like therapeutic play, connection, creativity, animal-assisted therapy and gaming. To ease anxiety before surgery, our child life specialists explain what is going to happen during surgery in a way that both you and your child can understand.
Preparing for surgery: anesthesia for children
Children’s Colorado has more than 50 anesthesiologists and each one is board-certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means all of our anesthesiologists specialize in working with babies and children and have pediatric-specific training critical to providing the best care. Our pediatric anesthesiologists perform significantly more procedures on children than any other hospital in the region, so they know how children respond to medications. Using their expertise to make anesthesia as safe as possible not only helps children feel comfortable, but it helps to put their parents’ minds at ease as well.
Using the best surgical practices
Many of the procedures that our surgeons perform are done using minimally invasive techniques. These techniques use a small camera that magnifies the image, so the surgeon can see what is happening inside the body in great detail. This allows them to make smaller incisions, which means shorter healing times, lower risk of infection and less pain and discomfort.
These minimally invasive techniques include laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery in the abdominal cavity) and thoracoscopy (minimally invasive surgery inside the chest) and are commonly used to treat conditions like appendicitis, to perform lung biopsies and for assistance in repair or correction of pectus excavatum. Our smallest patients also benefit from these minimally invasive procedures. For babies who are born with abnormalities such as esophageal atresia, duodenal atresia, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, Hirschsprung disease, and congenital pulmonary airway malformations, we also use minimally invasive surgery. Our surgeons will help determine which surgical approach is best for your child and will discuss with you the details of the techniques that they recommend.
Support during and after surgery
A Child Life specialist acts as your child's coach and advocate, supporting your child before, during and after their procedure, using various distraction techniques and relaxation exercises. Child Life specialists can also prepare parents and siblings to assist their family member when recovering after a medical procedure.
Depending on the procedure, parents may be allowed to be with their child right before they go into the operating room and right after the procedure when they wake up from anesthesia. After surgery, your child will receive around-the-clock care from pediatric surgeons, surgical trainees from the University of Colorado, advanced practice providers such as nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants, and our award-winning nurses.
Why choose us for pediatric surgery care
Our focus on children goes far beyond the operating room. In addition to the clinical care we provide, our surgeons conduct research both in the laboratory as well as at the bedside. Through our research, we can take advantage of the most modern and innovative treatments that have been designed specifically for children. Our multidisciplinary approach also means that we can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, and we can often apply what we learn in one field to many different specialties.
Our clinical care and research have been recognized nationally. Programs including gastrointestinal surgery, lung surgery and cancer surgery have consistently ranked in U.S. News & World Report as some of the best in the nation for kids and teens.
Ranked among the best
Nationally ranked for pediatric cancer treatment
Children’s Colorado has one of the nation’s largest cancer treatment centers for kids and teenagers, which is also consistently ranked among the top programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Here, pediatric surgeons treat liver and kidney tumors, a variety of other solid tumors, including neuroblastoma, and they provide catheters and ports for cancer patients. Oncologists and surgeons are members of the Children’s Oncology Group.
Creating more effective treatments for pediatric liver, gallbladder and bile related disorders
The Pediatric Liver Center houses a team of hepatologists (doctors who treat liver, gallbladder and bile disorders), pediatric surgeons and transplant surgeons who treat children with liver disease. The specialists in the Pediatric Liver Center are internationally recognized for contributing to new discoveries in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of pediatric hepatobiliary (liver, gallbladder and bile related) disorders.
Providing the only Level 1 Trauma and Burn Center for children in Colorado
Our hospital located on the Anschutz Medical Campus is the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma and Burn Center in the region. We provide the highest level of complex care for traumatically injured children every day of the year and every hour of the day. Our pediatric surgery team provides total care from prevention through rehabilitation. At our hospital in Colorado Springs, you’ll find a Level 2 Trauma Center offering the best trauma care for children in southern Colorado 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our trauma centers are verified by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons.
Our Burn Center is the only program in the state of Colorado dedicated to caring for pediatric burn patients and providing burn prevention education. We have been caring for children injured by burns since 1980 and offer a kid-centric approach during a difficult time.
Advancing research and innovation
Waveform diagnostics is a quickly growing research area at Children’s Colorado. A team of researchers, led by Steve Moulton, MD, are analyzing large volumes of vital sign data to help them monitor the risk of cardiovascular collapse due to internal bleeding or dehydration. This technology is extremely beneficial in trauma and triage scenarios.
Ongoing research areas
Additional research areas include fetal therapy and wound healing, clinical outcomes of weight loss surgery performed in teenagers, medical information processing and resuscitation equations, diagnosis and treatment of hepatobiliary diseases and childhood cancer. Our surgeons also conduct clinical outcomes research across the spectrum of pediatric surgery. Recent publications have included diseases such as appendicitis, gastroesophageal reflux, trauma, biliary atresia, kidney transplant, congenital diaphragmatic hernia and others.
Collaborating with other departments for the best results
In partnership with the Digestive Health Institute and our pediatric gastroenterologists, we provide surgical expertise for children with esophageal, intestinal, liver, pancreatic and nutritional disorders.
Our teams are internationally recognized for new discoveries in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of pediatric hepatobiliary (liver, gallbladder, and bile related) disorders, as well as leaders in the medical and surgical management of biliary atresia. Our Liver Transplant Program rounds out our care for liver disease, providing whole liver, reduced segment liver, split liver and living related donor liver transplants with some of the best outcomes in the nation.
Working with the Breathing Institute, we help to treat congenital pulmonary airway malformations, airway anomalies, pulmonary hypoplasia, interstitial lung disease, chest wall deformities and pulmonary hypertension.
Children’s Colorado has one of the nation’s largest cancer treatment centers for kids of all ages. Here, our pediatric surgical oncology program treats liver, kidney and ovarian tumors, as well as a variety of other solid tumors including neuroblastoma and Wilms tumor.
Learn about the programs we work with and the conditions we treat.
Great surgery outcomes
All pediatric operations and outcomes are tracked using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program - Pediatric. Our department has been instituting quality improvement initiatives since this program began. Using information collected from this database, we have reduced surgical site infections, advocated to limit radiation exposure with computed tomography (CT) scans and decreased antibiotic usage for appendicitis. Our ongoing quality improvement and consistent measuring of surgical outcomes help us ensure that we are always striving to provide the best care for children.
Contact the Department of Pediatric Surgery
Children’s Hospital Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora
Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs
Clinic Fax: 719-305-9720
OneCall for 24-hour specialist consultation, referral, urgent consultation and assistance with patient transfer
Children’s Hospital Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora: 720-777-3999
Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs: 719-305-3999