General surgery is a surgical specialty that involves performing multiple surgical procedures on different areas of the body.
While general surgery is a specialty, it is broader than other surgical specialties. General surgeons may also work with patients before and after surgery.
General Surgery Basics
General surgeons receive intense training in multiple surgical procedures. They are trained to perform surgery on the following:
- The alimentary tract which includes the esophagus and the related organs
- The abdomen and the organs contained within it
- The endocrine system
- The breasts, soft tissues, and skin
Additional General Surgeon Knowledge
General surgeons also have experience and knowledge in surgical oncology, surgical critical care, and trauma. This type of surgeon is highly skilled and can work on multiple areas of the body.
Surgeons in this specialty are expected to have skills and knowledge regarding various diseases so that they can provide team-based interdisciplinary care for their patients. The unique clinical needs of their patients must be considered during surgery. Such knowledge includes:
- The needs of terminally ill patients, such as nutritional deficiencies, pain management, end-of-life decisions, and palliative care
- The needs of geriatric patients, such as co-morbid chronic disease management
- The needs of morbidly obese patients, such as special surgical needs, metabolic derangement, and patient counseling
- Working with patients from vulnerable and culturally diverse populations
Common General Surgery Procedures
General surgery is a broad field. However, there are some procedures that are performed more frequently than others. These include:
- Appendectomy: This is a surgical procedure that removes the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch that is connected to the large intestine. This procedure is usually performed when someone’s appendix is inflamed or infected.
- Cholecystectomy: This surgery works to remove the gallbladder. Surgeons may remove this organ for many reasons, such as gallstones, infection, cancer, or inflammation.
- Breast biopsy: This is a surgery that is performed to determine if breast cancer is present. The surgeon will remove a small section of tissue so that pathology can examine it.
- Wound debridement: Some wounds require more intensive intervention to properly heal. There are several types of wound debridement for this purpose, one of which is surgical. The surgeon will remove devitalized tissue and biofilm to promote wound healing.
- Tonsillectomy: During this procedure, the surgeon removes both tonsils, or sometimes just one. This is typically done when the tonsils are inflamed or infected and not responding to medications.
- Hemorrhoidectomy: Some hemorrhoids do not respond to conventional treatments. In these instances, a surgeon will remove the problematic hemorrhoid from the anus or lower rectum.
- Esophageal surgery: Surgery on the esophagus may be performed for several reasons, such as severe acid reflux, to remove a lesion or growth or for esophageal cancer. For cancer, all or part of the esophagus may be removed.
With this information, it is easier to understand when consulting with a general surgeon can be helpful. This ensures that patients make an informed choice for their surgical needs.