Pediatric Surgery | Pediatrics

Pediatric Surgery

Our expert surgical team uses advanced surgical techniques to treat all types of medical conditions in infants, children and adolescents.

Medically reviewed on June 05, 2023.

Young girl preparing for surgery with a therapy dog on her hospital bed

Highest Level of Pediatric Surgery Care

At UC Davis Children’s Surgery Center, we offer expert surgical care for your child. We have the first level 1 Children’s Surgery Center on the West Coast. This means no matter how minor or complex your child’s condition, our highly skilled pediatric surgeons can help.

Our children’s operating rooms are available to patients 24 hours a day. We also offer dedicated board-certified pediatric anesthesiologists who care for your child before, during and after surgery.

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Types of Pediatric Surgery

At UC Davis Children’s Surgery Center, we treat many pediatric conditions and injuries. We create customized treatment plans for every child, using both minimally invasive and traditional surgical techniques.

Fetal Surgery

We offer fetal surgery to correct or minimize a variety of life-threatening or potentially disabling conditions, such as spina bifida. Our surgeons focus on protecting the health of both the child and the mother.

Neonatal Surgery

We perform surgery on newborn babies who are critically ill or premature. Our surgeons treat abnormalities either present at birth (congenital) or acquired. We use minimally invasive surgery when possible.

Pediatric General Surgery

We offer pediatric general surgery for health concerns such as appendix removal (appendectomy), soft tissue bulging through abdominal muscles (inguinal hernias) and circumcision. We use minimally invasive procedures for these surgeries when possible.

Pediatric Surgical Oncology

Our pediatric surgical oncology team provides diagnostic and surgical treatments to children with cancer. We focus on all types of pediatric cancer, including liver tumors (hepatic tumors) and kidney cancer (Wilms tumor).

Pediatric Thoracic Surgery

We offer surgery for pediatric conditions or injuries that affect your child’s thoracic cavity. This is the area between your child’s neck and abdomen, such as their lungs or esophagus. Depending on the thoracic surgery procedure, we use minimally invasive techniques when possible.

Pediatric Vascular Anomalies

We treat congenital conditions caused by the abnormal development of blood vessels. These conditions may include benign tumors (hemangiomas) or more severe abnormalities in the arteries or veins (vascular malformations).

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Preparing for Pediatric Surgery

Before surgery, we’ll talk to you and your child about what to expect. Following their physician’s instructions before, during and after surgery helps ensure a safe and successful outcome.

  • Young boy playing with a stuffed animal alongside a child life specialist.

    Before Pediatric Surgery

    Before surgery, our child life specialists are available to help children understand and cope with their surgery. On the day of surgery, your child should have an empty stomach. Depending on the type of surgery, we will let you know when they should stop eating and drinking. Your child should also dress in comfortable clothes. They can bring a favorite object, such as a stuffed animal or a book.

  • Surgeons working on a patient in the surgery room

    During Pediatric Surgery

    We discuss ahead of time what you and your child can expect during their surgery, based on their specific condition and type of surgery. While some procedures may allow you to remain in the room with your child, others will need you to stay outside in the waiting area. Rest assured, our compassionate team will look after your child throughout their procedure.

  • Music therapy specialist playing guitar with a brain surgery pediatric patient in hospital room.

    After Pediatric Surgery

    After surgery, your child will rest in a recovery room. If your child has anesthesia, they will stay there until they feel well enough to go home. If your child needs to stay in the hospital longer, we encourage a parent or guardian to stay in the room with them overnight. We give you detailed recovery instructions and any support your child needs.

Home Care After Your Child’s Surgery

After your child returns home from surgery, they will need some special care and attention. Your child’s recovery time will depend on the type of surgery, their condition and the kind of anesthesia used.

Monitor Their Activities

Let your child relax the rest of the day. Try activities like reading or watching TV. They may feel unsteady, so you should keep a close eye on them.

Start with Clear Liquids

If your child feels unwell or doesn’t have an appetite, begin with clear liquids, such as water or ginger ale. They can progress to light foods like crackers or soup when they start feeling better.

Keep Pain Under Control

Your child may have pain or a low-grade fever (under 101 degrees Fahrenheit). Your surgeon or physician will give you advice on treating your child’s pain. You can also offer them cold liquids or popsicles.


When to Contact Your Physician

Contact your child’s physician right away if you notice any signs of infection or symptoms including: 

  • Excessive bleeding, drainage, odor, redness or swelling at the surgery site
  • Extreme difficulty waking up
  • Fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius)
  • No urination 6 to 8 hours after coming home
  • Severe pain
  • Severe vomiting or nausea 
Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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NCI badge

World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 11th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality.”

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