Pediatric Surgery at Columbia

Here to Meet the Needs of All Children

When your child needs surgery, only the top experts and safest, most effective procedures will do. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Columbia’s program. We take a comprehensive approach to pediatric surgical care, working closely with our partners in pediatric anesthesiology, neonatology and all pediatric medical subspecialties to deliver a level of service and quality that marks us as one of the top programs in the country. 

With Columbia’s pediatric surgery team, you can expect: 

Top Quality: We are proud to be part of the #1 ranked children’s hospital in New York by US News and World Report and the only Level 1 pediatric surgery center in the northeast, according to the American College of Surgeons. Several of our subprograms, like our Adolescent Bariatric Surgery service and our ECMO Life Support service, have earned individual honors as well. 

More Options: As part of a major academic center, our resources allow us to deliver services and techniques that other programs simply can’t provide.  We offer advanced minimally-invasive procedures for a variety of pediatric diseases, and we are the only center in the tri-state area that offers fetal repair of myelomeningocele, a sever form of spina bifida. 

A Family First Approach: We are committed to making your child’s entire surgical journey as easy as possible, for them and for you. From taking the time to answer your every question before the procedure to making sure you have a comfortable bed to sleep on during their hospital stay, we strive to infuse all our care with respect, compassion, and clear communication. 

If you choose to have your child’s surgery performed at Columbia, you can take comfort knowing you will have the resources of a world-class institution behind you, one that has been at the forefront of advancing pediatric care since the 1800s, when we opened the country’s very first hospital for infants. Now known as the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, our tradition of innovation pushes us to always seek out new and better ways to help all children. 


Our Approach to Pediatric Surgery

At Columbia, we believe that the more time a child spends with their family during the surgical process, the better their recovery will go.

  • In almost all cases, parents accompany their child into the operating room and stay until they are asleep. 
  • For safety reasons, they cannot stay during the surgery itself, but we make sure to deliver frequent updates throughout the procedure. 
  • After the operation, parents go to the recovery room, to be with their child as they awaken from anesthesia. 

Our family-centered approach also includes: 

  • Parental visiting 24 hours a day
  • Parental rooming-in with the child
  • Parent support groups
  • Pediatric Pain Service
  • Child Life Center, which provides schooling and age-appropriate play and recreational activities
  • Big Apple Circus Clown Program
  • Clinical Nurse Coordinator who provides counseling and healthcare services to patients and their families

Our approach to pediatric surgery also emphasizes the use of minimally-invasive techniques whenever possible. This means smaller incisions, less discomfort, shorter healing times, and less-noticeable scarring. Our surgeons use minimal access techniques for both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, including:

  • Acute appendicitis
  • Pyloric stenosis
  • Evaluation for inguinal hernia
  • Colon pull-through procedures
  • Removal of the spleen and gall bladder
  • Undescended testis and varicocele
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Abdominal and chest tumor biopsy and staging
  • Drainage of chest infection after pneumonia
  • Neonatal esophageal, pulmonary, and diaphragm anomalies
  • Insertion of dialysis and shunt tubes
  • Anti-reflux procedures
  • Repair of pectus excavatum
  • Treatment of children with chronic lower abdominal pain

To get started with our pediatric surgery program, call (212) 342-8585 or request an appointment online.


Our Programs & Services

The pediatric surgical team at Columbia is trained in the full range of pediatric procedures, with the experience to perform them all at the highest level possible. From infants to teens, from the routine to the highly complex, our team is here to help your child. As part of Columbia/NYP’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, we have access to all the latest and least invasive techniques to ensure the best results and fastest recovery possible.

Fetal & Newborn Surgery

Working closely with Maternal-Fetal-Medicine and Pediatric Medicine specialists, our pediatric surgeons are able to provide care for your baby as early as possible. New techniques and advances even allow your baby to be treated in the prenatal stage, before birth. Highlights of our fetal and newborn surgery services include:

  • Spina Bifida/Myelomeningocele Care: We have the only program in the city offering fetal intervention to repair myelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida associated with a wide range of complications including early death, paralysis, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. Performing this surgery while the baby is still in the womb has been shown to significantly improve results by decreasing the need for cerebrospinal fluid shunting and improving motor function. Learn more about spina bifida and myelomeningocele.
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Care: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) is a condition that results from a hole in the diaphragm muscle which allows organs from the belly to pass up to the chest and compress the lungs. Our CDH Program teams surgeons with neonatologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, and more to begin planning treatment before birth and continue following their care throughout childhood. For the most severe cases of this condition, our specially-designed protocol for babies in need of heart-lung life support prior to surgery has achieved a survival rate of more than 90 percent.
  • Esophageal Atresia Care:  Esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF) is a rare birth defect where the esophagus fails to properly connect the mouth to the stomach. Without surgery, babies cannot be fed and are at risk for severe pneumonia. Our REACH Clinic (Researching Esophageal Atresia for Children’s Health) offers comprehensive care to children with EA/TEF. Visit our Esophageal Atresia Care page for more information.
  • Biliary Atresia Care: Biliary atresia is a disorder of the bile ducts that can lead to liver failure if not properly treated. While most children with biliary atresia require a liver transplant a year or two after birth, we can also offer the option of the Kasai procedure, which replaces the damaged bile ducts with a portion of the child’s own intestines. The Kasai procedure can delay the need for transplant until age 10 to 15. By then the donor pool is larger and these patients will not have been on immune suppression from an early age. Learn more about biliary atresia.
  • Congenital Lung and Airway Care: Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformations (CPAM) are usually identified on prenatal ultrasound by obstetricians. Our surgeons work with the Maternal Fetal Medicine team to monitor these abnormalities during the pregnancy, and with the Neonatology team after birth. Typically the child will be operated on between three and six months of age. Using minimally invasive techniques, we can remove these lesions through three tiny incisions in the baby’s chest, with almost no scarring.  Children usually leave the hospital one to three days after the procedure. Learn more about CPAM.

Learn more about fetal and neonatal surgery »
Learn more about other types of congenital digestive issues »

Childhood & Adolescent Surgery

Treating kids and teens requires special consideration. Providing excellent clinical service is not enough; complete surgical care means establishing trust, understanding and anticipating their unique questions, and helping hold on to a sense of control at all times. We are proud to provide complete, comprehensive care for all childhood and adolescent surgical issues, from routine appendectomies and inguinal hernias to rare and complex disease. Highlights of our childhood and adolescent surgery service include:

  • Chest Wall Abnormality Care: Many children and adolescents deal with a common chest issue called pectus excavatum, in which the chest bone (the sternum) is pushed back towards the spine, creating a sunken-chest appearance. A similar condition called pectus carinatum involves the chest bone pushing outward. These conditions can unfortunately lead to significant stress and anxiety for adolescents, who often become sensitive to looking different from their peers. They can also lead to further physical issues, like increased pressure placed on the heart and around the lungs due to pectus excavatum. Fortunately, there are effective, minimally invasive surgical options to deal with these conditions. Our surgeons have extensive experience dealing with these and more complex abnormalities, and frequently work alongside orthopedic surgeons and other specialists to ensure the best results. 
  • Adolescent Weight Loss Care: As obesity rates rise in teens and adolescents, research is showing a greater role for early surgical intervention with kids who fall into the category of severely obese (those with body mass indexes (BMIs) over 40). Our Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery is one of the few such programs in the country specializing in this important area. Our team is amongst the most experienced in the world providing minimally invasive bariatric (weight loss) surgery, and our procedures result in significant long-term weight loss. Learn more about our adolescent weight loss program.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease Care: Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions that can affect more than just the digestive system. Our surgeons are integrated into a larger team of IBD specialists that include pediatric gastroenterologists, nutritionists, immunologists, social workers and more. We specialize in minimally invasive, laparoscopic colon surgeries and are at the forefront of research into new and more advanced treatments.

More Specialized Care

In addition to the above care areas, we offer many top-ranked programs for families in need of highly-specialized care. 

Pediatric Thyroid Program

For children and their families dealing with thyroid disease ranging from abnormal hormone levels to nodules and cancer, our surgeons work with a team of endocrinologists and other specialists to create comprehensive treatment plans specifically attuned to each family’s needs. The pediatric program at the Columbia Thyroid Center is the premier program of its kind in New York and one of the top pediatric thyroid programs nationwide.

Trauma & Critical Care

You can’t plan for emergency surgeries, but you can take comfort that if your loved one is brought to us for a traumatic or critical surgical situation, they are in the hands on one of the only state-designated Level 1 Regional Pediatric Trauma Centers in New York. For infants and children facing critical heart-lung issues, Our Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Life Support program is one of the first of its kind and has led our program to be designated a center of excellence by ELSO, the leading Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

Vascular Anomalies Program

Vascular anomalies are abnormally-formed arteries and veins that can cause lesions or birthmarks on your child’s skin. Some vascular anomalies (like hemangiomas) are benign tumors that can grow, but they do not spread throughout the body like cancerous tumors. As part of Columbia’s multi-specialist Vascular Anomalies Group, our surgeons are experts at removing disfiguring lesions and reconstructing the affected area. 

Our Partner Programs

Some surgical issues that affect children are handled by other divisions within our Medical Center. Learn more about the important work our peers do to help children and families in need.

  • Congenital Heart Center
    Surgeons at our Congenital Heart Center work side-by-side with pediatric cardiologists, imaging specialists and more to deliver advanced care with results that far exceed national benchmarks. Our Center pioneered many of the now-standard approaches for congenital heart care, and it continues to be on the forefront of new diagnostic and treatment options, including leading the way in congenital heart valve procedures. No matter the complexity or severity of your child’s heart condition, our team can help. Learn more about our Congenital Heart Center » 

  • Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate Care
    Cleft lip and cleft palate are common conditions, but their treatment can be extremely complex. At Columbia, we’re proud to report that our team of craniofacial surgeons have been approved to meet the high standards of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA). Our Craniofacial Center teams connects your child with world-leading reconstructive surgeons and a full range of support services and therapies. Learn more about our Cleft Lip & Palate Care »
  • Surgical Cancer and Transplant Care
    There are few things more challenging for a family than a diagnosis of cancer. Making sure you have all options available to you and a trusted care team that can walk you through each one can help. When it comes to surgical approaches to cancer care, treatment often comes in the form of an organ transplant—removing the diseased organ and replacing it with a healthy donor one. Our world-renowned Liver Transplant program and Kidney Transplant program lead the region in pediatric transplant care.  Our team is also highly-experienced in using minimally invasive procedures to safely biopsy chest and abdominal tumors for proper diagnosis and staging.

Research and Clinical Trials

As one of the world’s leading research hospitals, Columbia is constantly developing newer, safer surgical techniques and treatments. As a patient, your child may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trials focusing on new approaches to diagnosing or treating their condition.

Programs For Students & HCP

Being part of an Ivy League academic center means our doctors not only practice their craft, they teach it to the next generation of leaders in the field of pediatric surgery - pushing them to always be aware of the latest findings and best practices.


Our Pediatric Surgery Team

Steven Stylianos, MD | (212) 342-8586
Chief, Division of Pediatric Surgery
Surgeon-in-Chief, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital

I currently have focused my practice in four main areas: 1. Newborn anomalies; 2. Biliary Atresia; 3. Chest wall deformities; 4. Inguinal hernias.

Jennifer DeFazio, MD | (212) 342-8585

I treat a broad range of pediatric conditions and am especially interested in the surgical management of neonatal and congenital diseases, complex anorectal disorders, and minimally invasive techniques.

Vincent Duron, MD | (212) 342-8586
Co-Director, Fetal Therapy Program
Director, Pediatric Trauma & Surgical Critical Care
Director, Pediatric Minimally Invasive Surgery

My interests include fetal and neonatal anomalies, minimal access surgery, and the treatment of critically ill pediatric surgical and trauma patients, as well as access to surgical care in developing countries.

Erica Fallon, MD | (212) 342-8586
Director, Pediatric Surgical Oncology

I am committed to the compassionate, collaborative, and meticulous surgical care of infants, children, and their families. I have particular interest in neonatal and congenital diseases, pediatric surgical oncology, gastrointestinal diseases, and minimally invasive techniques in addition to patient safety and quality improvement within the field of pediatric surgery.

William Middlesworth, MD | (212) 342-8585
Director, Regional Pediatric Trauma Program
Director, Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program
Director, Pediatric Surgery Fellowship Program

My clinical practice involves the broad range of Pediatric Surgical diseases, with which I have over 20 years experience. Areas of focus include esophageal atresia/tracheostomy's-esophageal fistula, ECMO life support, hepatobiliary disease and pediatric thyroid disease.

Jeffrey Zitsman, MD | (212) 342-8585
Director, Adolescent Bariatric Surgery

I have been practicing pediatric surgery in the New York area since 1985. My areas of interest include applications of minimally invasive techniques in pediatric surgery, chest wall deformities, and weight loss surgery in adolescents.


Resources & More

Contact Information 

Call (212) 342-8585 or request an appointment online

Our primary location is in Manhattan, at: 

NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York

3959 Broadway (166th Street and Broadway)
New York, NY 10032
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We also see patients in White Plains, NY at:

ColumbiaDoctors Children's Health

15 North Broadway, Floor: Lower Level , Suite: G
White Plains, NY 10601
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Englewood, NJ – 500 Grand Avenue

500 Grand Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07631
Phone: (212) 342-8586
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Planning & Preparing

Stories & Perspectives

Formerly Conjoined Twins Make Medical History – Again!

Over 20 years ago, conjoined twins Carmen and Rosa Taveras were brought to Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital to be separated in a groundbreaking surgery. In 2013, Rosa Taveras - one of the formerly conjoined twins - gave birth to her own child, Elijah. Read More »

More Resources

Related Programs

To get started with our pediatric surgery program, call (212) 342-8585 or request an appointment online.