Choosing a surgeon
Ravindra Vegunta, MD is a pediatric surgeon at Cardon Children's Medical Center. For more information on this topic, please consult with your doctor or call Dr. Vegunta's office at (480) 412-9400.
Question: My 5-year-old niece is having surgery and my sister is trying to determine which surgeon to use. What are some things she should consider when choosing the surgeon?
Answer: Because children have physiological needs specific to their ages, a surgeon who specializes in treating children is ideal. A pediatric surgeon has undergone extensive general surgery training and at least two years of additional training to care for pediatric patients, gaining insights on how to care for babies, toddlers, elementary-age children and adolescents.
The additional training completed by a pediatric surgeon includes understanding how to use equipment and instruments that are sized appropriately for children. A pediatric surgeon should also be educated in performing minimally invasive procedures. When feasible, minimally invasive options are always preferred for children because they cause less pain, involve a shorter hospital stay, promote quicker recovery, and create less prominent scarring. A more invasive approach might be necessary for repeat surgeries, large tumors or more complex conditions, but many medical problems can be corrected effectively with a minimally invasive procedure. However, the instrumentation associated with minimally invasive procedures is much smaller to accommodate a child’s size, so special training in this area is very important.
When researching physicians, looking for pediatric surgeons who are board-certified or board-eligible is also recommended. And the surgeon should provide services in a children's hospital setting or in medical centers with dedicated pediatric departments, where the equipment and environment are designed especially for young patients.