Month: June 2015

General Surgeons: What’s their Specialty?

According to the American College of Surgeons Health Policy Research Institute, one in five practicing physicians in the United States is a surgeon, and general surgeons are one of the largest surgical specialties. General surgeons are more common than any other surgical specialty except obstetrics and gynecology.

Education in general surgery is at the core of every surgical specialty. Some specialties even require that a surgeon become certified in general surgery before going on for training in a specialty. General surgeons need four years of college, four years of medical school, and a minimum of five years in residency. They must be licensed in all states, and many are also board-certified. Some might also have training in a particular area of surgery even though they are not certified in that area.

The surgeries that a general surgeon performs can include almost any organ or body system, according to the American Board of Surgery. General surgery residency training covers the abdomen and its contents; breast, skin, and soft tissue; pediatric surgery; head and neck surgery; burn treatment; and vascular surgery. In addition to surgery, a general surgeon must be able to assess and treat trauma, soft tissue wounds, cysts, abscesses, abdominal wall hernias, breast conditions, varicose veins and peptic ulcers. Required knowledge for a general surgeon includes the basics of anatomy, physiology, and pathology, as well as how wounds heal, fluid management, treatment of shock, resuscitation, and the management of postoperative pain.

Other surgeries that a general surgeon commonly performs include gall bladder removals, hernia repairs, tumor excisions, and gastric-bypass surgery. Most general surgeons use both conventional techniques and laparoscopy — a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a flexible tube with a light on the end and miniaturized surgical instruments. Dr. Johnson takes technology one step further by being board certified in minimally invasive, virtually scar-free robotic surgery as well.

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Preparing You for Surgery

If you’ve ever had surgery or have been told that you need surgery, you know that anxiety and worry can happen long before the actual procedure. Taking a few smart steps before an operation can help you avoid surgical complications and cut down the pre-operative stress. By knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to go through pre-surgery preparations with a calm mind.
Think through your options.
o Is surgery your only choice or are there alternatives?
o If you do need surgery, do you need it now or can you — and should you — wait?
o Are there different surgical procedures to choose from?
o Discuss details of your treatment options with your doctor, scheduling more than one consultation if necessary.
Select an Experienced Surgical Team
o Choose an experienced surgeon and a facility that specializes in performing operations for your particular condition.
o In addition to working with a qualified surgeon, schedule your procedure in a hospital or surgical center that does a high volume of the surgical procedures you’re having.
In the time leading up to your surgical procedure, be sure to take good care of yourself and follow your doctor’s advice. 
o Surgery puts stress on the body, so the stronger you are physically, the better you’ll handle it.
o Get enough sleep.
o Eat a healthy diet.
o If you smoke, stop for at least two weeks prior to your surgery.
o Follow your doctor’s directions when it comes to taking or stopping medications before your operation.
Prepare your home and make arrangements for when you are recovering.
o Ready your home, including preparing food and rearranging furniture if necessary.
o If necessary, arrange for someone to take care of your children while you are in the hospital.
o Arrange for help at home after discharge, if you will need some time to recover.
If you have been told you need surgery or have a condition for which surgery is recommended, Dr. Matthew Johnson is an experienced general surgeon. Schedule a consultation to learn about your options.
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Surgery Choices for Hernia Repair

While many surgeons tend to agree that certain operations are best done laparoscopically, there is disagreement over whether minimally invasive or traditional open surgery is best for other types of abdominal surgery like certain kinds of hernia repair. For example, repair of inguinal hernias in men is a common surgical procedure, but the most effective surgical technique is a controversial topic. Add robotic surgery to the conversation, and patients might start wondering just what is the best option for hernia surgery. Understanding all of your options will help you to decide which surgical method is best for you.

There are many different kinds of hernia repair, but the three major categories are:

  • Tension Repair – In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen over the hernia site, pushes any protruding tissue back into the correct position within the abdominal cavity, and then stitches the incision closed. This type of repair is called a tension repair because the stitches put tension on each side of the defect in order to keep it closed.
  • Tension-Free Repair – Tension-free techniques are the most common hernia repair techniques and are considered the standard of care by the American College of Surgeons. Tension-free repair techniques use a piece of mesh to bridge the hernia defect as opposed to sewing the two sides of the incision above the hernia together with stitches.
  • Laparoscopic Tension-Free Repair – To perform a laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair, the surgeon makes small incisions on the abdominal wall and inserts small tubes, through which an endoscope and dissecting instruments can be passed. The entire procedure is watched by the operating team on a video screen. The space under the inguinal canal or within the abdominal wall is dissected and any organs that have entered the hernia sac are brought back into the abdominal cavity. A piece of mesh is then placed over the weakened area and held in place with any of a variety of attachment devices.

Robotic surgery is also a laparoscopic technique but with another layer of technology that allows superior dexterity and much less surgeon fatigue than other methods. The 3D viewing ability along with other advances make minimally invasive robotic surgery the best option for some cases.

Make an appointment with Dr. Johnson to see what the best option is for you.

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