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General Surgery - General Specialist Doctor

General Surgeon

There are numerous treatment techniques that a doctor can apply to a patient. If medications are insufficient to solve the patient’s health problems optimally, then one thing that can performed is a surgical procedure / surgery. This is where the general surgeon comes into the picture.

In Greek, “surgery” stems from the term “cheirourgia” which means “handwork”. The main task of a surgeon is to treat wounds or diseases through surgical procedures or operations.

Surgeons have the ability to treat illness, injury, or emergency conditions through surgical (operative) methods and medications. These specialist doctors have a deep understanding of almost the entire human body and how to perform operations on various parts of the body. However, certain organs like the brain or heart, require the handling of other surgeons. Thus, it is highly likely that a general surgeon will work with other surgeons to treat a patient’s disease.

A general surgery specialist is generally also referred to as a general surgeon. 

Types of Surgeries

Before you consult a general surgeon, it is better to know in advance the types of surgery in order to prepare questions you want to ask regarding your health problems.

The following points list surgery types, the equipment used, the type of incision, timing, body part, and the purpose of the operation.

Surgery Based on Procedures:

  • Resection,the removal of an internal organ or body part of a patient
  • Amputation, a surgery performed to prevent the spread of infection by cutting off a certain body part
  • Reconstructive surgery, a surgery performed to repair parts of the body that are injured, deformed, or damaged.
  • Cosmetic surgery, a surgery performed for cosmetic purposes, such as plastic surgery.
  • Transplantation, a surgery that aims to replace the damaged organs with “new” organs from other sources.
  • Replantation, if resection is performed to remove tissue in the body, then this surgical procedure is the opposite of that. Replanting is a surgical procedure to reattach a body part that has been detached.

Surgery Based on Equipment

  • Microscopic surgery, surgery that utilizes microscopic technology, which is common in neurosurgery
  • Endoscopic surgery, surgery using an endoscope device or a flexible tube equipped with a camera at one end. This is done to have an overview of the internal organs.
  • Robotic surgery, surgery that uses a computer system to control a robotic arm with its end-effector.
  • Laser surgery, surgery that utilizes laser light to repair tissue in the body, similar to surgery to close the blood vessels in the eyes of patients with diabetes.

Surgery Based on Surgical Incision

  • Laparoscopy, surgery that requires small incisions. Major surgical operations often use laparoscopic techniques to reduce pain and recovery time
  • Laparotomy, surgery that requires a large incision.

Surgery Based on Timing 

  • Emergency surgery, a surgery performed during an emergency situation to save a patient’s life – generally, after a patient has had a severe accident or injury that has triggered trauma.
  • Semi-elective surgery, surgery that can be postponed and is usually performed to prevent the adverse effects of health problems.
  • Elective surgery, surgery performed according to the patient’s request and aims to prevent the patient from any threat of diseases.

Surgery Based on Body Parts

  • Bone surgery, surgery performed on muscles and bones.
  • Heart surgery, surgery on the heart organs such as heart bypass surgery and heart valve surgery.
  • Gastrointestinal surgery, surgery on the digestive system
  • Oral surgery, surgery performed on the mouth and upper jaw area.

Surgery Based on Purpose

  • Therapeutic surgery, surgery that is useful for treating patient’s illnesses.
  • Investigative Surgery, surgery that is useful to confirm the suspicion of the diagnosis.

Sub-specialties in General Surgery

Some of the general surgery specialties include: 

  • General surgery 
  • Orthopaedics Surgery 
  • Urological Surgery 
  • Plastic Surgery 
  • Neurosurgery 
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery 
  • Paediatric Surgery 

As for the sub-specialties, they are divided into 3 parts namely:

  • Vascular Surgery Sub-specialty
  • Digestive Surgery Sub-specialty
  • Oncological Surgery Sub-specialty

Medical Procedures General Surgeons Can Perform

General surgeons have the ability to treat patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. In their practice, general surgeons often receive patient referrals from general practitioners or other specialists. The referred patient will then be examined and provided with a diagnosis to determine whether a surgical procedure is necessary. If surgery is required, the surgeon will work closely with the anaesthetist and nurses in the operating room to treat the patient.

The following are some medical procedures that general surgeons can perform:

  • Facilitate consultation, information and education for patients related to their illness.
  • Perform disease diagnosis based on physical examination and other tests such as laparoscopy, endoscopy, ultrasound, X-rays, CT-scans, MRI, PET-scans, and laboratory tests.
  • Perform a biopsy (taking a tissue sample), for example, on a lump or tumor in a certain part of the body
  • Perform both invasive and minimally invasive surgery for patients, as well as overcoming complications from emergency surgery
  • Perform surgery with various procedures such as through resection (removal of organs / tissue), amputation, transplantation, to replanting.
  • Simplify the dialysis procedure by creating a pathway from the vein or abdominal cavity.
  • Monitor wound care during the recovery period, such as postoperative wounds, infectious wounds, and burns.
  • Care for patients from pre to post-surgery

Diseases Treated by General Surgeons

Diseases that are treated by general surgeons cannot be treated with medications only.

Some of the diseases treated include:

  • Appendicitis.
  • Peritonitis.
  • Liver abscess.
  • Benign tumors, such as fibromas, adenomas, and lipomas.
  • Tumors or cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and stomach cancer.
  • Hernia.
  • Burns or puncture wounds.
  • Birth defects / congenital abnormalities that need reconstructive surgery.
  • Gallbladder disorders, such as gallstones, infection and inflamed gallbladder
  • Bone fractures or bone shifts

When to See a General Surgeon?

If you are still unsure about the disease you have, you can first see a general practitioner to get a diagnosis. From there, you can consider further treatment from a general surgeon.

Patients who consult a surgeon will undergo a series of medical tests, especially for those who have:

  • Heavy smoking habits or have high blood pressure.
  • Blood clotting disorders or thick blood
  • Potential diabetes, which affects postoperative wound recovery.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Drug allergies
  • Internal organ disorders such as heart, liver and kidneys

The tests will determine whether the patient needs surgical treatment. In addition, you should pay attention to factors such as how the surgery is performed, the type of incision given, the risks, and the required recovery process. If the surgery is not considered an emergency, you should also ask about the impact or possibility that might occur in the short or long term.

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