General Surgeon – What they Do and When to Visit?

Overview and Definition

General Surgery is a specialty where surgeons perform general surgery procedures for a wide range of common ailments. They are also responsible for patient care before, during, and after the surgery. General surgeons can diagnose and surgically treat numerous diseases, especially those related to the abdominal organs. These include liver, pancreas, bile ducts, spleen, appendix, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and stomach.

With so many general surgery subspecialties, people often get confused with general surgery and other specialties like cardiovascular or oncology. The main difference is the kind of knowledge imparted to the general surgeons during their training. While general surgeons receive core knowledge during their postgraduate training and, after that anything that requires a more comprehensive approach is passed on to a specific surgeon or specialist during their superspeciality course training.

Scope of General Surgery

These surgeons are trained to perform general surgery procedures on the following:-

  • Alimentary tract
  • Abdomen and its contents
  • Breast, skin, and soft tissue
  • Endocrine system

In addition, general surgeons also possess knowledge and experience in the field of:

  • Surgical critical care
  • Cancers
  • Trauma

Despite being general surgeons, they possess extensive knowledge and skill. They typically perform general surgery procedures on common abdominal complaints including hernias, gall bladder stones, appendicitis, stomach issues, obesity and intestinal issues. But the focus of general surgery is not just on the abdomen as a general surgeon may specialize in any type of surgery with the likes of heart surgeries or cancer treatment also included in the list.

Who is a General Surgeon?

A general surgeon is a specialist doctor who has received education and training in preoperative, operative, and postoperative management of patient care. General surgeons need to be equipped with all sorts of information related to emergencies, intensive care, anatomy, metabolism, immunology, nutrition, pathology, physiology, shock & resuscitation and wound healing.

When to See a General Surgeon?

You may visit a general surgeon if:-

  • You have been referred by your doctor/general physician:
    General physicians and other specialty doctors work closely with general surgeons if the treatment plan requires a more invasive approach. It can be because the medications are not working or there is a disease that needs to be surgically removed by a general surgeon.
  • You need to undergo a weight loss surgery:
    Weight loss surgeries are often related to the abdomen and its contents. Hence, they are carried out by general surgeons.
  • You require emergency care:
    Some wounds and injuries can be so severe that the patients require surgery as early as possible. The emergency cases include resuscitating in case of shock, an amputated limb, skin burns, internal bleeding, and intestinal obstruction or perforation.
  • You need both preoperative and postoperative care:
    General surgeons are expected to have knowledge in the evaluation and diagnosis of pre and postoperative situations. Moreover, they need to possess skills in pain management, especially after an operation, infection control, or wound healing. With these skills, general surgeons provide the best medical care possible before, during, and after surgery.

What are the diseases treated by a General Surgeon?

  • Anal Fissure
  • Anorectal Abscess
  • Appendicitis
  • Breast Abscess
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Lipomas
  • Varicose Veins
  • Abdominal Abscess
  • Abdominal Hernias
  • Abdominal Stab Wound
  • Abdominal Trauma
  • Bile Duct Tumors
  • Cholecystitis
  • Diabetic Foot Infections
  • Diabetic Ulcers
  • Fistula-in-Ano
  • Gallstones
  • Inguinal Hernia
  • Intestinal Perforation
  • Keloids

Common Procedures Performed by General Surgeons

  • Excision of Fistula in Ano
  • Excision of Sebaceous Cysts
  • Excision of Sentinel Piles
  • Laparoscopic / Open Appendicectomy
  • Laparoscopic / Open Cholecystectomy
  • Minimal Invasive Haemrrhoidectomy (Stapled hemorrhoidectomy)
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy
  • Pilonidal Sinus Excision
  • Stripping for Various Veins
  • Surgery for Gynaecomastia

The Road Down General Surgery

The road is rather rocky and long, but in the end, it’s totally worth the effort. Doctors have to spend five & a half years to achieve an MBBS degree from a medical college followed by another three years in post-graduation in general surgery. Furthermore, to enhance their skills, doctors also pursue certain fellowships courses in Minimal Access Surgery, Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery, or Endoscopic Hernia Surgery. 

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.

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