General and thoracic surgery

Specialized surgery for children

Close up of surgeons in surgery

When your child needs surgery, you want a surgeon with advanced, specialized training to care for the special needs of young patients. That’s who you’ll find at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. In addition to achieving board certification in general surgery, our surgeons receive years of fellowship training in pediatric surgery. They work with your family to determine the right approach for your infant, child, or teenager.

What are general and thoracic surgery?

General surgery treats many areas of the body, including the abdomen (belly), glands, head and neck. Thoracic surgery focuses on the chest, including the lungs and esophagus (food pipe).

Injuries and illnesses we treat

Your child will be in good hands with Spectrum Health pediatric surgeons, who can treat many common and rare problems:

  • Abdominal wall defects (holes that digestive organs push through)
  • Acute (sudden) abdominal pain
  • Appendicitis
  • Bowel blockages, including pyloric stenosis and intussusception
  • Cancer, including Wilms’ tumor (kidney cancer) and neck, chest or abdominal tumors
  • Digestive disorders, including those affecting the liver, gallbladder, biliary tract, pancreas, intestines, anus or retroperitoneum
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux
  • Gynecologic problems
  • Hernia (bulging organ)
  • Hydroceles (swelling in the scrotum)
  • Items stuck in the throat or airway
  • Kidney diseases
  • Sunken chest and pigeon chest
  • Thyroglossal duct cysts and branchial cleft cysts (lumps in the neck)
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Undescended testicles

Least invasive approach

We want to make your child’s surgical experience as easy as possible. That’s why your pediatric surgeon will take the least invasive approach, using small incisions or no incisions to reduce pain, scarring and recovery time.

To perform a minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon may insert a thin tube with a light and camera into your child’s body to see inside and guide treatment. This tube can help examine the:

  • Airways (bronchoscopy)
  • Chest or lungs (thoracoscopy)
  • Digestive tract (endoscopy)

Your first visit

We know you try to help your child feel calm and comfortable before a visit to the doctor’s office. So our staff do, too. Our nurses and pediatric surgeons know how to connect with kids and make medical care more fun.

During your first appointment, you can expect the pediatric surgeon to review your child’s medical history and perform a physical exam. If the doctor recommends surgery, we’ll help you schedule the procedure and any tests your child must get before treatment.

Rest assured, our surgical team will determine the safest and most effective use of anesthesia or sedation for your little one’s needs. Our specialists in pediatric anesthesiology tailor each step of the process to your child and answer your questions along the way to help both of you feel at ease.

Understand the risks

Like any medical procedure, general or thoracic surgery carries some health risks, such as bleeding or infection. Talk to your doctor about the:

  • Potential benefits and risks
  • Risk level based on your child’s health, age and other factors
  • Ways your care team works to keep your child safe
  • What you can do to improve your child’s outcome

Preparing for surgery

Learn what to expect and how our child life specialists and other staff help your family prepare for pediatric surgery.

Our care team

Your family is the focus of a team of pediatric experts led by board-certified physicians who specialize in treating and caring for children. All our professionals work together to give your child seamless, coordinated care.

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Child Life Specialist

Helps your child understand surgery and feel calmer about treatment

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Pediatric Oncologist

Treats cancer in children

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Neonatologist

Oversees the care of sick newborns

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Pediatric Psychologist

Diagnoses and treats behavioral concerns

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Operating Room Nurse

Helps your child get ready for surgery and supports the surgeon during treatment

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Pediatric Radiologist

Uses imaging to diagnose health problems or guide treatment

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Pediatric Anesthesiologist

Prevents pain and monitors your child’s health during surgery

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Pediatric Surgeon

Performs your child’s procedure

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Pediatric Hematologist

Cares for blood disorders in children

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Social Worker

Connects your family with resources to pay for care or make life easier

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Pediatric Intensivist

Provides critical care after surgery

Locations and directions

Find locations for Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital general and thoracic surgery services.

Physician office
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Receive care before and after surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Outpatient Center in Grand Rapids. Find us at 330 Barclay Avenue NE, across the street from Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital’s emergency department entrance.

Parking at our office

Take advantage of free, handicap-accessible parking next to our building in Ramp 8.

Surgery locations
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Work with your child’s care team to determine the right location for his or her surgery. We perform pediatric general and thoracic surgeries at:

Parking at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

We’ll make it as easy as possible for you to park and get to the right place—so you can focus on your child. Find information about valet parking and free self-parking at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. When you check-in, we’ll help you find the surgery department.

Manage Your Child's Health

Use MyChart to schedule appointments, access test results and communicate with your child's care team.