General surgery is a medical specialty which encompasses surgical procedures, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions that affect the abdomen, endocrine system, colon, liver, pancreas and rectum. Medical doctors trained in general surgery are called general surgeons.
What Is General Surgery as a Field?
A general surgeon has to go through 6 years of medical training followed by 5 years of surgery training. Being one of the most demanding specialties of medicine, a junior surgeon spends hundreds of hours on call, in shifts and in the operating room to gain expertise until they are qualified to the title of general surgeon.
What Does a General Surgeon Do?
To understand the patient's illness the general surgeon inquires the symptoms and medical history, performs a physical examination and orders diagnostic tests to understand the depth of the current health condition. Often, patients might be consulted or directed from other clinics to be evaluated for surgical treatments The surgeons will then discuss risks, and benefits to help the patient make an informed decision.
What Conditions Does a General Surgeon Treat?
A general surgeon treats a range of conditions; they are called in for particular cases in various fields. Some examples include:
Digestive System Diseases
- Gallbladder Disease: Gallstones are hard deposits in the gallbladder that induce abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
- Colon cancer: Occurs in the large intestine. After cancer surgery, surgeons generals perform surgery to remove cancerous outgrowths and reconstruct the colon.
- Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids are swollen veins resembling varicose veins in the anus and lower part of the rectum. Hemorrhoids can occur inside or outside the anus. Typical symptoms are pain, soreness and bleeding when defecating. If it progresses, it can be treated with surgery.
- Liver abscess: Liver injuries or intra-abdominal infections can cause liver abscess. Most of these abscesses are bright red and tend to bleed. Fungi and parasites can form some of them. If other treatment methods do not respond, surgical procedure is applied.
- Liver cancer: Liver cancer, which is caused by abnormal growth of liver cells, can also spread from other parts of the body.Depending on the degree of cancer, it can be treated with surgery.
- Fissure: A tear in the skin covering the anus. Fissures may occur in cases of constipation that lasts for a long time. They can cause pain and bleeding. Sometimes surgery may be needed to treat it.
- Fistula: Fistula is a tube-like structure formed between an organ and another organ. Fistulas can cause the passage of body fluids between tissues. It can be treated with surgery
Digestive diseases with surgical treatment:
- Hernia: They occur when an organ protrudes through weak muscles in the abdomen. It is treated with surgery.
- Appendicitis: Infection in a small pouch-like structure attached to the large intestine causes it to grow larger and become fatal if not operated on. It is treated with surgery
- Rectal prolapse: It is the protrusion of the rectum, the last part of the intestine, out of the anus. can be treated with surgery
In general breast surgery the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as breast cancer are performed. Conditions such as benign and malignant tumors developing in the breast and tumors in the armpit lymph nodes may require surgical procedures. Breast cancer and removal of breast lumps- cancerous and non-cancerous tumors through lumpectomy or mastectomy.
Soft Tissue Diseases
There are many diseases that general surgeons treat; A subset of the requirements is the treatment of soft tissue diseases. General surgery can examine, diagnose and treat sarcomas and tumors in soft tissues.
Endocrine Issues and Conditions
The endocrine system in the human body produces hormones and enzymes that help it cope with the stresses it's going through. General surgeons can treat the following conditions that affect these glands:
- Thyroid disorders: like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, can be treated through surgeries or supplemented with medications. The gland is in the neck and produces the hormone that regulates metabolism.
- Adrenaline gland tumors: Adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and make the flight or fight hormone, namely adrenaline. They control blood pressure, stress response, and the body's metabolic response.
- Parathyroid gland disorders: like hyperparathyroidism (an overactive gland) and hypoparathyroidism (an underactive gland), can be fixed through surgery. The parathyroid glands handle calcium levels in the body.
Diagnostic Methods Frequently Used by General Surgery
In order to treat general surgical diseases, it is important to make the correct diagnosis first.
First of all, the patient's history is listened to in detail and the patient's medical history is learned. Then, necessary radiological, biochemical and physical examination tests are performed. Diagnostic methods used in general surgery can be listed as follows:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): ERCP is a method used to diagnose and treat diseases in the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. A long light flexible rod is inserted through the mouth and directed towards the mouth, esophagus and stomach.A dye is injected into this area and monitored on the computer.
- Endoscopy:It is the examination of the stomach and intestines by inserting a tube with a light and a camera at the end through the mouth. Applicable by trained surgeons
- Colonoscopy: It is the examination of the colon and rectum by inserting a bendable rod with a camera and light at the end through the anus. Can be performed by trained surgeons
- Ultrasonography: Ultrasonography uses sound waves to examine tissues and organs in the body in detail. Sound waves create echoes that create images of organs on a computer screen.
- Computed tomography (CT): It uses X-rays to create 3D images of the body from different angles. In this way, body organs, blood vessels and other tissues can be examined in detail.
- X-ray: It is used to obtain images of the inside of the body using X-rays. Images are formed in black and white. This is because different parts of the body absorb radiation to different degrees.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic resonance imaging is a device that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to view the body in detail. It creates the magnetic field thanks to the large magnets in it.
- Biochemistry tests:Blood tests are one of the frequently used methods to diagnose diseases in the general surgery department.In particular, biochemical tests can be used to diagnose circulatory system diseases and hormone diseases.
- Biopsy: Other diagnostic methods used to diagnose some diseases may not respond. In such cases, the biopsy method can be used. The diagnosis of the disease can be made by taking a piece of tissue from the area of the disease and examining the tissue.
- Exploratory surgery: Exploratory surgery can be applied when the diagnostic methods applied do not respond. To observe the disease, an incision is made in the abdomen and an examination is performed.
What are the General Surgery Treatment Methods?
After the diseases are diagnosed in the general surgery department, an appropriate treatment plan can be applied according to the degree of the disease. In general surgery, surgical operation is usually performed, but conditions that do not require surgery can be controlled with drug therapy. The operations can be classified as open surgeries and minimally invasive surgeries. As the name suggests, open surgeries include making big incisions to reach and and operate the target area. This usually includes cancer surgeries and emergency surgeries; when patients doesn’t have time to prep for the surgery. Minimally invasive surgeries are more specific surgeries that aim to make least amount of scarring and invasive procedures to perform the required surgery. Treatment methods applied in general surgery can be listed as follows:
- Open Surgery Method: It is a procedure performed by making an incision in the skin. The disease is treated by making a large or small incision in the area where the disease is located. The incision is then sutured closed. Open surgery can be performed under general or local anesthesia.
- Appendectomy: In case of appendicitis, appendectomy is performed to surgically remove the appendix, which is a part of the large intestine.
- Cholecystectomy: It is a method used to remove the gallbladder if it is filled with stones or has become cancerous.
- Hemorrhoidectomy: It is the removal of swollen veins in the rectum and anus.
- Mastectomy: An operation to remove part or all of the breast. Mastectomy is usually performed to treat breast cancer.
Most common procedures:
- Laparoscopic Surgery Method: One of the most commonly used treatment methods in general surgery is the laparoscopic method. By making a minimal incision in the area, the laparoscope device can be inserted through this area to treat the damaged area. Since there is a camera at the end of the laparoscope device, the doctor can see and treat the area. This method can be performed under general or local anesthesia.
- Endoscopy: In order to examine the digestive system organs, a long, thin tube with a camera and light at the end is inserted through the mouth and advanced.A biopsy sample can also be taken with this method.
- Bronchoscopy: It is a method that allows the examination of the bronchi in the lung with the help of a flexible tube. With this method, tissue samples can also be taken from the lungs.
- Cystoscopy: It is used to examine the urinary tract, urethra, and bladder. It is both a diagnosis and a treatment method.
- Arthroscopy: It is used to examine and repair the inside of joints.
USHAŞ: Hospital for All Your Needs
As one of the multi-utility fields of study, general surgery specialists are needed in every field of hospital's surgery needs. From handling emergency cases regarding accidents. Appendicitis and burns, General surgery as a field is applicable and malleable across various sub-specialties.
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