Diseases in Newborns that Require Surgery

April 23, 2019
New treatments for newborns that require surgery has evolved in both positive and negative ways over the years. Let's look at the diseases and surgical treatments.

Certain diseases are very common during the first weeks after the birth of newborns. However, any surgery that a baby has to endure is complex since they are so physically weak.

Since perinatal care has evolved in a very positive and effective way over recent years, the survival rate of newborns who have these surgical diseases has improved exponentially.

The development of medicine that’s focused on neonates with complex diseases require surgical treatment has been possible thanks to the following advances:

  • Effective prenatal diagnosis with early reference.
  • Improvement in surgical techniques and technologies.
  • An adequate team of professionals that are specialized in the field.
  • Advances focused on postoperative care.
  • Investments in the development of neonatal surgery as a sub-specialty.

The Most Common Diseases in Newborns that Require Surgery

There are some diseases in newborns that require surgery that are especially common. Below, we’ll make a brief summary of what they are.

Wet Navel in Newborns

The drainage fluid from the umbilicus can originate in two types of embryonic structures. The most common is in the vestigial sinuses, although it can also be in the urachal or mesenteric fistulas.

In the event that the moisture becomes purulent, the newborn may be at risk of developing septicemia.

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Umbilical Mass in Newborns

In newborns, granuloma is the most common form of umbilical mass that can develop.

Fortunately, in most cases, this responds to topical treatments. Therefore, surgery isn’t necessary. However, this isn’t always the case.

Umbilical or Supraumbilical Hernia

In the event that the newborn has an umbilical hernia, there’s a high chance that s/he’ll experience a spontaneous resolution. Additionally, there is a low probability that it will cause any complications. 

The smaller the problem and the earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances of spontaneous resolution.

On the other hand, if the hernia turns out to be supra-umbilical, it won’t take care of itself spontaneously. In addition, it’s usually symptomatic, despite its small size. A newborn suffering from this condition will definitely require surgery. 

Read this article: How to Bathe a Newborn Baby

Empty Scrotum


This condition occurs when one or both testicles aren’t found in the scrotum. This problem may have originated due to an accentuated Cremasterian reflex.

In other cases, the testicles may not have descended to the scrotal sac. Instead, it’s somewhere it shouldn’t be, or is halfway between. This causes cryptochidism or testicular ectopia.

Finally, it’s important to mention that the foreskin is another area that often requires surgery in newborns. This is mainly due to the development of cicatricial and physiological adhesions, as well as infections in the preputial area.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

When it comes to diseases in newborns that require surgery, minimally invasive surgery has turned out to be one the most significant surgical advances in recent decades. 

This has allowed surgeons to decrease morbidity, pain, and scarring caused by the operation greatly. This is possible thanks to the reduction of the surgical incisions.

The evolution of advanced surgical skills, as well as the introduction of laparoscopic instruments, has made minimally invasive surgery one of the greatest advances in modern medicine.

Doctors have been able to increase the benefits of minimal incisions and decrease the patient’s recovery time. Additionally, they have decreased the pain it causes. Another benefit is that the procedures used for babies have become much more precise. 

Doctors currently use minimally invasive surgery for abdominal and thoracic diseases in newborns.

Fortunately, we now are able to ensure the health of babies better than ever before, no matter what the disease.

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  • Pantoja-Ludueña, M. (2005). Onfalitis. In La neonatología en la atención primaria de salud.
  • González, J., & Uriarte, Á. (2012). Hernia Umbilical. In Eventraciones. Otras hernias de pared y cavidad abdominal.
  • Grapin-Dagorno, C., Bosset, P.-O., Boubnova, J., & Noche, M.-E. (2012). Criptorquidia. Ectopia testicular. EMC – Urología. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1761-3310(12)63536-1