Forging the Future of Surgery
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Surgical Services is one of the largest children’s surgical programs in the world. We are dedicated to clinical excellence, generation of new knowledge through research and the training of the next generation of leaders in children’s surgery. Under the umbrella of a unified program, 11 surgical departments share a common mission, philosophy and approach to patient care.
Our central focus is the well-being of the child and the family. With unrivaled clinical care across our specialties, we are breaking new ground. For example, our institution has led the world in the discovery that childhood appendicitis can often be successfully treated without surgery. We have created a new process for evaluating and preventing surgical complications that has become a national standard adopted by many other children’s surgery programs. We are the only institution implanting tissue engineered blood vessels into human infants with congenital heart defects. We have celebrated more than 1,000 days without a surgical site infection for orthopedic spinal fusions. We were able to accomplish all these things through a focus on quality and commitment to our strategic plan. All members of the team, from the surgeon to the anesthesiologist to the dentist and nurse are trained and dedicated to maximizing patient care and safety.
We are a high-volume center with over 90 children’s specialty surgeons. And we are continually growing in size, scope and volume.
Kenneth Washburn, MD, is the Chief of Transplantation.
Marc A. Levitt, MD, is Section Chief of Colorectal & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Geri D. Hewitt, MD, is the Chief of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the Director of Gynecologic Surgery for the Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Jeffrey R. Leonard, MD is the Chief of Neurosurgery and the Surgical Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program.
Don L. Bremer, MD is the Chief of Ophthalmology.
Kevin E. Klingele, MD is the Chief of Orthopedics.
Charles A. Elmaraghy, MD is the Chief of Otolaryngology.
Gail E. Besner, MD is the Chief of Pediatric Surgery.
Richard Kirschner is the chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and director of the Cleft Lip and Palate-Craniofacial Center.
V. Rama Jayanthi, MD is the Chief of Urology.
Janice A. Townsend, DDS, MS, is the chief of Pediatric Dentistry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Preparing Future Surgeons
We are teaching tomorrow’s surgeons. Teaching them the skills they will need to advance the field of surgery and influence care across the world. Nationwide Children’s Department of Surgery offers 15 surgical subspecialty fellowships in nearly every specialty and includes a highly respected pediatric dentistry residency. Integration with The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, one of the top NIH-funded free-standing pediatric research institutions, offers a top-rated education to residents and fellows. Our mission to help kids everywhere fuels our prioritization of academic and clinical education.
Collaboration for Success
Collaboration is at the core of what we do. With 45 interdisciplinary programs involving surgery at Nationwide Children’s, working together is just part of who we are. This interdisciplinary collaboration results in more innovation and ultimately better outcomes for our patients. Some procedures require the teamwork of specialists in different areas — for example, separating conjoined twins.
In September 2015, a multidisciplinary team with specialists from Pediatric Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Neurosurgery and Colorectal Surgery successfully separated conjoined twins Acen and Apio.
“Every part of this superb team was essential to the success of the separation surgery,” says Gail Besner, MD, chief of Pediatric Surgery and lead surgeon for the twins. “We had the opportunity to take two patients who would never have been able to have a normal life as they were before and make them into two separate individuals who, I expect, will have healthy and normal lives.”
The 22q Center is another example of collaboration and innovation across the institution. As experts in 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome, we are positioned to provide diagnosis and early intervention services to optimize care and deliver best outcomes for every child. Through the 22q Center, led by the Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, multidisciplinary, family-centered care spanning surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, psychosocial considerations and others are offered to patients and their families. Given the wide spectrum of medical, developmental and psychological needs of patients with 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome, our individualized and comprehensive approach affords each child the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
Our interdisciplinary clinical programs are mirrored by collaborations in research that encompass the entire institution. Whether in the operating room or in the laboratory, our surgeons, clinicians and researchers are working together to bring the best possible outcomes to children everywhere.
In the last five years, the surgical research program has grown to become a world-class model of clinical and translational research. Surgeon-scientists are breaking new ground and developing new innovations to improve the lives of children everywhere. Surgical research at Nationwide Children’s is fully integrated into The Research Institute, a top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded research institution.
“We have an amazing synergy happening in research at Nationwide Children’s,” says Christopher Breuer, MD, pediatric surgeon, director of Surgical Research and principal investigator in the Center for Cardiovascular Research in The Research Institute. “We have expert clinicians, innovative researchers, resources and institutional support, which all together are enabling us to accomplish great things.”
From tissue engineering to the non-operative management of appendicitis, surgical research at Nationwide Children’s is committed to looking at old treatments in new ways. We’re also looking to improve how research is done. A recent study by Katherine J. Deans, MD, and Peter C. Minneci, MD, pediatric surgeons, co-directors of the Center for Surgical Outcomes Research and principal investigators in the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, addresses stakeholder involvement in clinical trial participation and retention.
Our researchers are using advanced technology to influence the future of surgery through research. By applying high-performance computing to the field of otolaryngology, a team of researchers is developing a simulation environment for teaching surgical techniques related to the temporal bone. Through the Epilepsy Research Program, a team of neurosurgeons and neurologists is working to develop numerous studies including mathematical modeling of EEG changes, an epilepsy surgery database and an algorithm for analyzing histopathology samples from surgery. In the Department of Urology, surgeons and researchers are working together using DNA analysis to evaluate how the body’s microbiome changes as children age, and how the microbiome responds to urinary tract infections.
Surgical Services Subspecialties
Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction (CCPR)
Our center is one of the first in the world to formally integrate all specialties involved in providing complete care of the colon and rectum in kids.
Our pediatric dentists and specialists provide comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children, including those with special health care needs.
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology) Services
Our team of ENT surgeons hold more than 25,000 clinic visits and perform over 7,000 surgical procedures annually. The team treats conditions from the most common, like chronic ear infections, to the most severe, such as airway reconstructions.
Eye Care (Ophthalmology)
The Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology is dedicated to serving the eye care needs of children. From standard exams to the diagnosis and treatment of complex eye disease, we have the experience and expertise to treat even our most challenging patients.
From the most complex brain and spinal disorders requiring the most challenging interventions to more common conditions and procedures, our expert team of pediatric neurosurgeons and neurosurgery nurse practitioners offers the complete spectrum of multidisciplinary care.
Whether it’s a baby with a congenital condition, or a teenager with a sports-related injury, our team specializes in diagnosing, evaluating and treating problems of the musculoskeletal system, trauma and fractures, scoliosis and other spinal abnormalities in children of all ages.
Our team provides comprehensive surgical care for infants, children and adolescents with inherited and acquired conditions, including major congenital anomalies, traumatic and burn injuries, and tumors.
Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
From preventative adolescent gynecologic care to treatment for complex conditions requiring reconstructive surgery, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology provides care for girls from birth through young adulthood.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
The Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery provides comprehensive management for all pediatric reconstructive needs including congenital and traumatic craniofacial and hand anomalies, velopharyngeal dysfunction, hemangiomas and vascular anomalies, pigmented birthmarks, reconstruction after burn injury, ear anomalies and breast deformities.
Nationwide Children’s offers high-quality, comprehensive transplantation services for children requiring this complex care.
Conjoined Twins Are Separated at Nationwide Children's Hospital
Acen and Apio, conjoined twin girls from Uganda, were successfully separated at Nationwide Children's. The 16-hour surgery was performed by a surgical team of more than 30 specialists from plastic surgery, colorectal surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology and nursing. The team was lead by Dr. Gail Besner of pediatric surgery.