General Surgery

- 0 min read

General surgery is a medical specialty that involves the treatment of a wide range of surgical conditions, including those affecting the abdomen, digestive system, breast, skin, and soft tissues. General surgeons are trained to perform both emergency and elective surgeries, such as appendectomies, hernia repairs, and gallbladder removals, among others. They also manage postoperative care and provide follow-up treatment for their patients. (1)

General view of operating theater with modern medical equipment and computers during a complex surgery

Overview and Definition

In the field of general surgery, the surgeon's duties go beyond the actual surgery, encompassing both preoperative and postoperative care and management. General surgeons are skilled in diagnosing various illnesses and medical conditions, particularly those that affect the abdomen and its associated organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and stomach, as well as the spleen, appendix, small and large intestine, and rectum. 

They can also perform surgeries on the thoracic region, hernias, and the glands in the thyroids, and carry out procedures on the skin and breast. In addition to hospitals, general surgeons can be found in trauma centers and emergency departments, where they may be responsible for treating burn patients. (2)

Education and Training 

General surgery is a highly specialized field that requires several years of rigorous education and training. Aspiring general surgeons must complete a minimum of five years of medical school after obtaining a bachelor's degree. During this time, they acquire foundational knowledge in various fields of medicine, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology.

After medical school, aspiring general surgeons must undergo a five-year surgical residency training program, during which they acquire specialized knowledge and skills in surgical procedures. However, no more than 12 months can be allocated for learning a single surgical specialty other than the primary components of surgery. Additionally, the program should not exceed six months in total for non-surgical clinical areas such as pediatrics, anesthesiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, or surgical pathology. 

During their residency, they are trained to perform both elective and emergency surgeries, including appendectomies, hernia repairs, gallbladder removals, and many more.

To qualify as a general surgeon, they must also pass an examination to obtain board certification. This certification is a formal recognition that the surgeon has met the rigorous standards set by the medical profession.

After becoming board-certified surgeons, general surgeons are also required to participate in continuing education programs to stay current with new developments and techniques in their field.  (3,4)

Practicing as a General Surgeon

Team of surgeons performing surgery

To practice as a general surgeon, one must complete the required education and training program, obtain a medical license, and board certification. General surgeons are expected to have in-depth medical knowledge, as they perform surgical procedures on a variety of body areas, including, but not limited to, the belly, skin, head, neck, limbs, and several organs. It takes exceptional motor skills, flexibility, and teamwork to succeed in this medical specialization.  (5)

General surgeons work closely with other healthcare professionals, including anesthesiologists, nurses, and surgical technicians. They work in collaboration when a more invasive intervention is required for the treatment plan. They perform surgical procedures on various parts of the body, including the abdomen, skin, head, neck, limbs, and some organs.  

The surgical procedures needed for such interventions are within the scope of general surgeons, including colon and abdominal resections, organ transplantation, and other surgeries. In emergency situations, such as severe injuries that require immediate surgery, the diverse knowledge and skills of general surgeons come in handy, especially in resuscitating the patient in case of shock. Such emergencies may include amputated limbs or fingers, skin burns, internal bleeding, and airway blockage. 

General surgeons are expected to have knowledge in evaluation and diagnosis, such as interpreting medical records and radiologic results, surgical treatment, and administering drugs like antibiotics and fluids. Additionally, the surgeon must have skills in managing nutrition, pain, infection control, and wound healing, particularly after operations. (6)

General surgeons must be able to make quick decisions and work well under pressure, particularly in emergency situations. They should also have good communication skills to effectively communicate with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals.

In addition to their core responsibilities, general surgeons must also stay up-to-date with the latest advances in medical technology and surgical techniques. They are required to attend continuing education programs to maintain their licensure and certification.

Overall, general surgeons play a critical role in treating a wide range of medical conditions and improving patients' quality of life.

Procedures Performed

General surgeons are trained to perform a wide range of surgical procedures, including both elective and emergency surgeries. Some of the most common procedures performed by general surgeons include:

  • Appendectomy: The surgical removal of the appendix, usually due to inflammation or infection.
  • Cholecystectomy: The removal of the gallbladder, typically due to gallstones or other issues.
  • Hernia repair: The surgical repair of a hernia, which occurs when an organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot in the muscle wall.
  • Colectomy: The surgical removal of part or all of the colon, typically to treat cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Mastectomy: The surgical removal of one or both breasts, typically to treat breast cancer.
  • Thyroidectomy: The surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland, typically due to thyroid cancer or other thyroid disorders.
  • Gastrectomy: The surgical removal of part or all of the stomach, typically to treat stomach cancer.
  • Bariatric surgery: Surgical procedures performed to help individuals with obesity lose weight, including gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding.
  • Splenectomy: The surgical removal of the spleen, typically due to injury or disease.
  • Excision of skin lesions: The surgical removal of various skin lesions, including cysts, moles, and tumors.
  • Hemorrhoidectomy: The surgical removal of hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the rectum or anus.
  • Lymph node removal: The surgical removal of lymph nodes, typically to test for cancer or to treat cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.

These are just a few of the many procedures that general surgeons may perform. The specific procedures performed by  general surgeons may vary depending on their area of specialization and the needs of their patients. (7)

General Surgery Expertises

General Surgery Blog Posts

  • 1- 




    5- )