According to the American College of Surgeons, a general surgeon is a specialist who is trained to diagnose, treat, and manage patients with a broad spectrum of surgical conditions affecting almost any area of the body. The surgeon establishes the diagnosis and provides the preoperative, operative, and postoperative care to patients and is often responsible for the comprehensive management of the trauma victim and the critically ill patient. The general surgeon has the knowledge and technical skills to manage conditions that relate to the head and neck, breast, skin and soft tissues, abdomen, extremities, and the gastrointestinal, vascular, and endocrine systems.
The information contained below provides a summarized description of some of the more commonly performed general surgery procedures with links to read more detailed information about each procedure or disease.
GALLBLADDER, BILE DUCT, PANCREAS & LIVER SURGERY
Cholecystectomy, or surgical removal of the gallbladder, may be performed laparoscopically or through a traditional open incision:
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: Small incisions are made and trocars are inserted to view the abdominal cavity.
Open Cholecystectomy: A larger incision is made to completely open up the abdominal cavity.
APPENDIX SURGERY (APPENDECTOMY)
Removal of the appendix may be performed laparoscopically or through a traditional open incision:
Laparoscopic Appendectomy: Small incisions are made and trocars are inserted to view the abdominal cavity.
Open Appendectomy: A larger incision is made to completely open up the abdominal cavity.
COLON & SMALL BOWEL SURGERY
General surgeons are trained in the surgical management of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, pancreas), endocrine glands, breast, skin and soft tissues. To learn more about the surgical treatment of various types of cancer, click here.
Surgery to remove the spleen, called splenectomy, may be necessary due to physical trauma (ruptured spleen), to diagnose certain lymphomas or due to damage caused by conditions such as certain autoimmune disorders.
BREAST BIOPSY & SURGERY
Breast Biopsy: Removal of a portion or all of a breast lump or abnormal breast tissue to diagnose a disease.
Stereotactic Biopsy: A special needle is used to remove samples of abnormal breast tissue to diagnose a disease.
Lumpectomy: Involves removal of a breast lump or abnormal breast tissue along with a significant portion of the surrounding tissue to diagnose a disease.
Mastectomy: Removal of all breast tissue and sometimes skin to prevent further progression of a disease.
Axillary Dissection: Removal of the lymph nodes located under the armpit to diagnose the stage of a disease.
Common types of hernias include:
Hiatal: Part of the stomach protrudes through the
esophageal hiatus of the diaphragm.
Inguinal: Occurs in the groin at the internal inguinal ring.
Ventral: A ventral hernia is a bulge through an opening in the muscles of the abdomen.
Umbilical: Occurs in the umbilical ring around the naval.
LUNG & RESPIRATORY SURGERY
General surgeons are trained to perform several procedures involving the lungs and respiratory system. Examples of such procedures include:
VASCULAR ACCESS SURGERY
Patients undergoing hemodialysis due to chronic kidney disease may require surgical creation of a dialysis AV fistula. General surgeons are also trained to surgically place intravenous catheters that are designed to be left in place for extended periods and are used when long-term intravenous therapy is needed, such as for IV antibiotics, total parenteral nutrition or chemotherapy.
A vasectomy is one of the most effective and safest forms of birth control. It is performed only when a man requests it, and it should be considered only when a man wants to be permanently sterile.