Diana Leigh Diesen, MD $$

Pediatric Surgeon

Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center

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Performing a successful surgery on a child or an infant – and healing his or her trauma, disease or congenital condition – is an emotionally rewarding moment for a pediatric surgeon.

“When you treat a child for an urgent or emergent condition, so that patient can go on to live 70 or 80 more productive years, it’s a pretty remarkable feeling,” says Dr. Diana Diesen, pediatric surgeon and Pediatric Surgery Fellowship program director at Children’s Health℠. “It’s an honor and privilege to be there for the child as well as his or her family, who tend to be particularly anxious when their child needs medical care.”

Dr. Diesen says she’s amazed each time she sees a thriving toddler in the clinic who she operated on as a small, sick, fragile baby; or a child who is up and walking around after being treated for injuries sustained in a terrible car accident mere months before.

“It’s extraordinary how well children heal themselves. Our job is just to help them along,” she explains. “Seeing these kids growing up and developing normally because you made a difference early on just puts such a big smile on your face.”

Dr. Diesen – who performs neonatal, thoracic, gastrointestinal, abdominal, and head and neck surgeries at Children’s Health – was drawn to the specialty as a medical student. Intellectually, she was fascinated by embryology and complex congenital conditions found in infants and young children. Emotionally, she was inspired by the potential to make a significant difference in a child’s life.

She and her fellow pediatric surgeons perform emergency, urgent and elective surgeries for a variety of congenital malformations, traumatic injuries and diseases.

Though they’re rare in children, Dr. Diesen also specializes in treating thyroid and parathyroid conditions such as thyroid masses and nodules, thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome and parathyroid adenomas and performs prophylactic thyroid removal surgery for children at a high hereditary risk for medullary thyroid cancer.

Dr. Diesen earned her medical degree at the University of Virginia in 2004, completed her residency in general surgery at Duke University Medical Center in 2011 and completed her fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Health in 2013. She’s been on staff as a pediatric surgeon for three years and is also an assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

She is board-certified in pediatric and general surgery and has also received specialty certifications in advanced trauma life support, fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery, pediatric advanced life support, basic life support and advanced critical life support.

In addition to her clinical and surgical responsibilities, Dr. Diesen is passionate about preparing medical students, residents and fellows to become pediatric surgeons. Currently the Pediatric Surgery Fellowship program director, she has been studying how to better teach novices surgical skills through simulation for several years. As part of a Northwestern University-sponsored study, her fellows are now spending extra time perfecting surgical techniques on neonatal models in the simulation lab.

She is a member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Sabiston Surgical Society. Dr. Diesen is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.


Education and Training

Medical School
University of Virginia School of Medicine (2004)
Duke University School of Medicine (2011), General Surgery
UT Southwestern - Children's Medical Center (2013), Pediatric Surgery
Board Certification
American Board of Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

Departments and Programs

  • Research Interests

    • Pediatric Endocrine and thyroid conditions
    • Resident and medical student education
    • Clinical outcomes research
    • Neonatal surgery
    • Pediatric solid tumors
  • Publications

    • Diesen DL, Skinner MA. Thyroid cancer in children. World Journal of Pediatrics, 2005, 2, 94-97.
    • Diesen DL, Skinner MA. Pediatric Thyroid Cancer. Seminars in Pediatric Surgery. 2012 Feb; 21(1):44-50
    • Lairmore T, Diesen DL, Goldfarb M, Milas M, Ying A, Sharma J, McIver B, Wong RJ,  Randolph G. AACE Endocrine Surgery Scientific Committee. AACE and American College of Endocrinology Disease State Clinical Review: Timing of  MEN Thyroidectomy and Extent of Central Neck Lymphadenectomy. Endocr Pract. 2015 Jul;21(7):839-47.
    • Diesen DL. “Thyroid nodules”, multimedia module for the American Board of Surgery Pediatric SCORE curriculum, 2015.
    • Diesen DL. “Endocrine disease”, multimedia module for the American Board of Surgery Pediatric SCORE curriculum, 2015.
    • Diesen DL, Skinner MA. Endocrine Disorders and Tumors. In Holcomb & Murphy (Eds.) Ashcraft’s Pediatric Surgery. (6th ed.) Elsevier, March 2014.
    • Diesen DL, Skinner MA. Head and neck tumors. In Carachi & Grosfeld (Eds.) The Surgery of Childhood tumors. (3rd ed.) Springer, in press 2015.
    • Spendlove N, Rialon K, Burkhalter LS, Rong H, Skinner MA, Diesen DL.  Contemporary review of Pediatric Thyroid Surgery.   AAP 2015.
    • Diesen DL Thyroid Nodules in Children. Pediatric Surgery Grand Rounds, Dallas, Tx. January 2015.
    • Gardner A. Diesen DL. Scott DJ, Hogg D, Heurta S. The impact of goal setting and goal orientation on performance during a clearship surgical skills training program. Accepted American Journal of Surgery 2015.
    • Diesen DL, Erhunmwunsee L, Bennett K, Ben-David K, Yurcisin B, Ceppa EP, Omotosho PA, Perez A, Pryor A. Effectiveness of laparoscopic computer simulator versus usage of box trainer for endoscopic surgery training of novices. Surg Educ. 2011 Jul-Aug;68(4):282-9. Epub 2011 May 4.
    •  Wadi H, Diesen D, Majewicz A. Training Wheels for Laparoscopic Surgery: Kinematic and Dynamic Constraints for Project Tool Handling.  Poster Presentation SAGES. April 2015. Nashville, Tn. Pediatric Surgery Clinical Outcomes

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