Pediatric Surgery Overview

Washington University pediatric surgeons are dedicated to providing compassionate, advanced pediatric care in a child-friendly environment.

As part of the clinical team at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) – ranked fifth by Child magazine on its 2009 list of the nation’s 10 best pediatric hospitals – our pediatric surgeons treat a wide range of medical conditions  including congenital anomalies and diseases of the head and neck, chest, abdomen and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, expert care is provided for children with cancer, trauma and burns. Many surgeries are now performed as minimally invasive procedures, which offer some benefits over traditional surgical procedures.

Areas of special expertise include:

Congenital Conditions

Our pediatric surgeons are well versed in providing prenatal counseling – as well as in providing surgical and follow-up care – for infants diagnosed with conditions such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia, fetal lung abnormalities, tracheoesophageal fistula, neck masses, gastroschisis and omphalocele. Typically, a condition is identified on an ultrasound, and the parents are referred to a team of specialists at St. Louis Children’s Hospital that includes a pediatric surgeon, neonatologist and high-risk obstetrician. After the baby is born, pediatric surgeons perform the operation, and the infant is placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU provides specialized care as well as advanced treatment and monitoring equipment, including ECMO, a heart lung machine that can be used temporarily to permit recovery when acute heart and/or lung failure occurs.

Cancer Treatment

Pediatric surgeons treat liver tumors, Wilms’ tumor (a kidney tumor in children), neuroblastomas, soft tissue sarcomas and other tumors. They work closely with medical and radiation oncologists as well as other cancer specialists at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Siteman Cancer Center has received international recognition for its cutting-edge research on pediatric cancer. It also offers the latest treatment options, including exciting new therapies available only in clinical trials.

Burn and Trauma Care

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center and has the only dedicated pediatric Burn Center in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Pediatric surgeons work closely with physicians in the emergency room as they provide surgical and follow-up care to major and minor trauma patients. At the comprehensive Burn Center, surgeons often combine aggressive burn therapy and procedural sedation in their treatment of children with burn injuries. They also work with specialists in many other areas as they focus on the well being of the whole child.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Our surgeons perform a growing number of procedures through minimally invasive surgery. This technique, performed through small ports in the body, allows surgeons to operate using high-resolution video imaging and specialized microinstrumentation. The end result generally has been less pain and scarring, quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays for pediatric patients.

Minimally invasive surgeries performed by Washington University pediatric surgeons include both laparoscopic (abdominal) and thoracoscopic (chest) procedures. Some of the more common minimally invasive procedures performed at Children’s Hospital include cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder), appendectomy, fundoplication for gastroesophageal reflux, ovarian cystectomy, pectus excavatum repair, lung biopsy, chest or abdominal tumor biopsy and treatment of pneumonia.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Our pediatric surgeons are an integral component of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. We have a large experience in treating Crohn’s disease and ileal pouch procedures for ulcerative colitis, as well as for familial polyposis. We see patients in a multidisciplinary clinic, along with our gastroenterology colleagues.

Fetal Surgery

Pediatric surgeons at Children’s Hospital participate in the Fetal Care Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and in pre-natal consultation for fetuses identified with congenital conditions. Our surgeons participate in exit procedures and provide the full spectrum of perinatal care of the mother and her child. We are part of the Fetal Care Center team.

Chest Wall Deformities

Dr. Martin Keller — along with colleagues in adult thoracic surgery, pulmonary medicine, cardiology, orthopedics and orthotics — care for the spectrum of chest wall deformities that includes, most commonly, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum. Our pediatric surgeons provide a range of minimally invasive and open procedures for these conditions and work collaboratively to design a treatment plan optimized for your child.

For an appointment with a pediatric surgeon, call (314) 454-6022.


St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital


  • For patient appointments, call (314) 454-6022, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • (314) 454-6000, 24 hours a day, ask for the chief pediatric surgical resident on call


  • 24 hours, on call service

Learn About Our Physicians

Brad W. Warner, MD, Pediatric Surgeon-in-Chief, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Patrick A. Dillon, MD
Martin S. Keller, MD
Constance Wye Leng Lee, MD
Jacqueline M. Saito, MD, MSCI
Jesse D. Vrecenak, MD