General surgery is a surgical specialty devoted to the surgical procedures of the organs of the abdominal cavity (including oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver, pancreas, gall bladder and gall ducts), thyroid gland, skin, soft tissues, peripheral blood vessels and hernia. By character, surgery is an invasive or interventional specialty: for many operations, an incision must be made (so-called open surgery), and the healing process can therefore be painful and long-lasting. However, since 2000s, thanks to technological innovation, minimally invasive surgery has become popular. New surgical methods enable to operate through very small incisions. This speeds up the healing process, decreases post-operative pain and makes getting an infection less likely. One example are the laparoscopic surgeries whereby special instruments are inserted in the abdominal cavity. The surgical procedure is performed by means of these instruments. Here is a short overview of some of the most common diseases and procedures general surgery deals with:
Hernia is a protrusion of an abdominal organ or its part, or the lining of the abdominal cavity (called peritoneum) into subcutaneous tissues through a congenital or acquired defect in the abdominal wall. A hernia is better visible and palpable when one is standing or exerting oneself. The most common hernias are inguinal hernia and ventral hernia. Hernia is one of the most frequent surgical diseases. In some patients, a hernia causes no trouble at all, but in other patients it can cause strong pain and discomfort.
Gallstone disease is caused by solid formations (gallstones) in the gall bladder. These stones may cause episodic pains with nausea and vomiting, and sometimes even inflammation of the gall bladder, blockage and/or inflammation of the gall ducts, and pancreatitis. After operation, 90–95% of the patients will get rid of their problems.
Bariatric surgery (in common language called stomach-reducing surgery) is a method to treat obesity. During the last years it has been a topic of hot debates. By this operation, the stomach is made smaller and/or the small intestine is made shorter. After the operation, up to 85% of the patients lose weight significantly (at least 50% of the overweight) and the procedure also helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and alleviate several obesity-related chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and podagra.
Skin moles can be a cosmetic and a medical problem at the same time. It is reasonable to show a skin mole to the doctor if it starts to disturb you – for example, when it rubs against clothes, has become bigger, red or itchy lately, or if you just don’t like it. Skin mole removal is usually a very fast and unproblematic procedure. If necessary, the removed mole is sent for biopsy (tissue analysis) to exclude malignancy.
Many people have problems with varicose veins. Varicose veins on legs (varicosis) is a very frequent disease, caused by enlargement of the superficial veins in the leg. Such veins become protruding and can be aesthetically disturbing. In milder cases it can be a purely cosmetic problem, but varicose veins can sometimes cause acute inflammation and ulcers. When local treatment does not help any more, it is possible to remove varicose veins surgically. In case of moderate varicosis, sclerotherapy could be applied – during this procedure, a substance that damages the inner layer of the veins, is injected in varicose veins, leading to their closure.
Varicose vein surgery€479–€1960
Varicose vein surgery with the removal of the great saphenous vein is a surgical procedure to treat varicose veins of legs. To remove the main trunk of the great saphenous vein, the major superficial vein of the leg, only two small skin incisions are made (in the groin and near the ankle bone). The branches of the vein are removed through small skin incisions or even through pinhole incisions that do not require suturing. The operation is performed under general or spinal anesthesia. Varicose veins are caused by chronic connective tissue weakness, therefore, to avoid the appearance of new varicose veins, it is necessary to continue using compression stockings after the operation.
Sclerotherapy for varicose veins€46–€1630
Sclerotherapy for varicose veins is a procedure to treat varicose veins that lasts about 20–50 minutes. It can be done on an outpatient basis and the recovery is quick. During the procedure, sclerosing (i.e. constricting or narrowing) substance is injected in the enlarged veins and capillaries. Sclerotherapy is not suitable for treating large varices! Before sclerotherapy it is advisable to consult a doctor and perform an ultrasound examination. Varicose veins are caused by chronic connective tissue weakness, therefore, to avoid the appearance of new varicose veins, it is necessary to continue using compression stockings after the treatment procedure.