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General surgery, despite the name, is actually a surgical specialty. General surgeons not only perform surgeries for a wide range of common ailments, but are also responsible for patient care before, during and after surgery. All surgeons must start their training in general surgery; many then go on to focus on another specialty.
If you are coming for surgery, please also see the Your surgical care journey and Day of surgery pages, where you will find out important information such as how to prepare for surgery and what to do/where to go when you arrive at the hospital.
About general surgeons
General surgeons are highly skilled surgical specialists who do a wide range of operative procedures:
- Intra-abdominal organs including small and large intestines, stomach, gallbladder and biliary tract
- Breast surgery for both malignant and benign conditions
- The endocrine system, including thyroid and parathyroid surgery
- Hernia surgery
- Soft tissue tumours
In addition, general surgeons have knowledge and experience in surgical critical care, surgical oncology (cancer) and trauma.
Abdominal surgery broadly covers procedures that involve opening of the abdomen. The three most common abdominal surgeries are exploratory laparotomy, laparoscopy and bowel resection:
- Exploratory laparotomy: This is when surgeons open the abdominal cavity to directly examine what is inside, for example, to locate a source of bleeding or trauma.
- Laparoscopy: This is a minimally-invasive approach where rigid tubes are inserted through small incisions into your abdominal cavity. The tubes allow introduction of a camera, surgical instruments and gases into the cavity so surgeons can directly or indirectly see and treat the abdomen.
- Bowel resection: This is surgery to remove a diseased or cancerous segment of the intestine. The surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen over the part of the bowel to be removed. After the removal, the surgeon may need to temporarily leave an opening to your intestine through the wall of the abdomen. The opening is known as a “stoma,’ and the operation to create it called an ostomy.
Surgery may be the first line of attack against breast cancer. You and your doctor will determine the type of surgery that is most appropriate for you based on the stage of the cancer, the nature of the cancer and what is most acceptable to you in terms of your long-term peace of mind.
The gallbladder is part of the gastrointestinal system and lies on the surface of the right lobe of the liver. One of the most common disorders of the gallbladder occurs when cholesterol mixes with bile and calcium to form gallstones. Gallstones usually have to be surgically removed. In some cases, the entire gallbladder must be removed.