This article discusses the potential benefits and challenges of minimally invasive surgery for infants and small children, and discusses why pediatric minimally invasive surgery is not yet the surgical default or standard of care. Minimally invasive methods offer advantages such as smaller incisions, decreased risk of infection, greater surgical precision, decreased cost of care, reduced length of stay, and better clinical information. But none of these benefits comes without cost, and these costs, both monetary and risk-based, rise disproportionately with the declining size of the patient. In this review, we describe recent progress in minimally invasive surgery for infants and children. The evidence for the large benefits to the patient will be presented, as well as the considerable, sometimes surprising, mechanical and physiological challenges surgeons must manage.

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