Neonatal Surgery

Neonatal surgery is the sub-specialty of paediatric surgery that involves operating on children under 1 month of age. This type of surgery is technically challenging and done in highly specialised multidisciplinary teams involving neonatal anaesthetists, neonatal intensive care physicians, neonatal nurses, occupational and physiotherapists, dieticians and nutritionists, and other general and sub-specialty neonatal surgeons.

Neonatal Conditions

Some of the conditions that neonatal surgeons treat include:

  • Anorectal Malformations – a range of birth defects in which the anus and rectum do not open in the normal position
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia – a hole in the diaphragm that allows the abdominal contents to migrate into the chest
  • Duodenal obstruction – caused by duodenal atresia or annular pancreas where the pancreas encircles and obstructs the duodenum
  • Gastroschisis – an abdominal wall defect in which the intestines protrude outside of the baby’s body
  • Intestinal atresia – a break in the bowel continuity causing a bowel obstruction
  • Exomphalos (Omphalocoele) – an abdominal wall defect in which the intestines and other abdominal organs develop outside of the baby’s body because of a large hole in the umbilicus
  • Fetal Lung Lesions – these are non-cancerous lung defects that can impact on respiratory function and usually require removal
  • Hirschsprungs Disease – a neurological condition of the large intestine that prevents the baby from passing stools normally
  • Malrotation – abnormal orientation of gut that puts it at risk of twisting
  • Meconium Ileus – a type of bowel obstruction that occurs in children with cystic fibrosis
  • Neonatal Tumours – rare non-cancerous and cancerous growths in babies e.g. Sacrococcygeal teratoma
  • Necrotising Enterocolitis – part of the intestine dies from lack of blood supply, more common in critically ill and premature infants.
  • Oesophageal Atresia – malformation of the oesophagus so that it is not a continuous tube, often associated with trachea-oesophageal fistula
  • Tracheo-oesophageal Fistula – an abnormal connection between the oesophagus (swallowing tube) and trachea (breathing tube)

Most of these conditions are rare with an incidence of <1 in 2500 children. They may occur in isolation but can also occur together and as part of complex syndromes. Following surgery and, often long stays in hospital, these children and their families require specialised post-operative care in multidisciplinary clinics. Often, their care is lifelong.

More Information

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Ph: 02 8307 0977
Fax: 02 8088 7420

This page is intended to provide you with information and does not contain all known facts about conditions that require neonatal surgery. Treatment may have uncommon risks not discussed here. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have.