Driving kids to and fro is a routine activity for metro Atlanta parents. That said, most moms and dads don't trust their children's safety to the standard adult-sized car seat. They carefully make sure they have the right seat for the right age, size and weight.
That's because parents know that whether it's an infant's five-point harness or a 9-year-old's booster seat, the right fit could save their child's life.
The same principle holds true when children need surgery because of enlarged or infected tonsils and or adenoids, says Dr. James Thomsen, Medical Director of Otolaryngology (ENT) at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Having a tonsillectomy can be straightforward – it's the second most common pediatric surgery, with more than 500,000 performed each year in the United States.* But straightforward does not mean without risk. And the best way to reduce risk is to make sure that pediatric patients have access to the equipment and expertise tailor-made for them. "Children are not little adults," says Dr. Thomsen. "And when you're dealing with anesthesia, surgery, or nursing care, you really want a medical environment that has the experience and tools to deal the unique issues of children."
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the only dedicated pediatric hospital in Georgia, can offer such specialized care, with multiple sizes of equipment and precise levels of treatment designed for kids. Breathing tubes and dosage, for example, for anesthesia is highly precise because Children's has to be able to adjust from a 4-pound preemie to a 250-pound 17-year-old athlete with a sport injury.
Children's also offers "kid-focused care," including child life specialists and therapy dogs to help make the entire family as comfortable as possible.
Of course, the most important reason parents should ask for a pediatric-trained surgeon is the same reason they have the right car seat – to prepare for a day when things are not routine. Pediatric-trained surgeons have gone through special training to care for kids. And, because Children's handles such a high volume of cases, there is little that its pediatric medical teams have not seen – providing a safety net of knowledge if something goes awry. "We can deal with simple problems in complex children – children who have multiple health issues," Dr. Thomsen said. "And we can deal with complex issues in healthy children." The vast majority of kids never need such extraordinary care – just like they might not need the multiple locks that keep them snug in their car seat. But if a child does need a tonsillectomy or an adenoidectomy, Dr. Thomsen wants to remind parents they always have a choice. "Be empowered. Be a good advocate," he says. "And ask and expect the specialized pediatric care your child deserves."
1. Tonsils are located on the sides of the throat, and adenoids are located inside the breathing passage in the back of the nose.
2. A tonsillectomy removes the tonsils, and an adenoidectomy removes adenoids. Typically, the procedures are done because of chronic infections or sleep apnea.
3. More than 500,000 tonsillectomies – the second most common pediatric surgery- are done each year, although that number has drastically dropped within the past decade. Adenoidectomies are often done in tandem with tonsillectomies or alone to treat nasal obstruction, chronic sinusitis or decrease the nose as a trigger for recurrent ear infections.
*Cullen KA, Hall MJ, Golosinskiy A. Ambulatory Surgery in the United States, 2006. National Health Statistics reports no. 11, revised. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2009.
Sponsored by: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta | Phone: (404) 785-4676 | www.choa.org/ENT