General surgery is frequently performed to alleviate suffering when a cure is unlikely through medication alone. It can be used for routine procedures performed in a physician's office, such as vasectomy, or for more complicated operations requiring a medical team in a hospital setting, such as laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder). Areas of the body treated by general surgery include the stomach, liver, intestines, appendix, breasts, thyroid gland, salivary glands, some arteries and veins, and the skin. The brain, heart, eyes, and feet, to name only a few, are areas that require specialized surgical repair.
New methods and techniques are less invasive than previous practices, permitting procedures that were considered impossible in the past. For example, microsurgery has been used in reattaching severed body parts by successfully reconnecting small blood vessels and nerves.
Patients who are obese, smoke, have bleeding tendencies, or are over 60, need to follow special precautions, as do patients who have recently experienced an illness such as pneumonia or a heart attack. Patients on medications such as heart and blood pressure medicine, blood thinners, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, insulin, or sedatives, may require special lab tests prior to surgery and special monitoring during surgery. Special precautions may be necessary for patients using mind-altering drugs such as narcotics, psychedelics, hallucinogens, marijuana, sedatives, or cocaine since these drugs may interact with the anesthetic agents used during surgery.
Jeffrey P. Larson RPT, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,