What is General Surgery?
A general surgeon is a specialist who performs many different kinds of operations, with a focus on those located in the chest and abdomen. General surgeons have specific knowledge about anatomy, surgical techniques, and wound care that allows them to excel at a wide variety of procedures.
While a general surgeon can perform many different kinds of operations, there are a few types that are most common in general surgery. They include:
Mastectomies and breast cancer removal
Laparoscopic abdominal surgery, including hernia repairs and weight loss surgery
Colorectal surgery to treat conditions such as intestinal polyps or Crohn’s disease
Abdominal transplants, such as kidney transplants or liver transplants
Emergency surgery, performing all different kinds of needed surgery in an emergency department
A general surgery residency requires the doctor to have direct experience in ten widely different areas, including abdominal procedures, pediatric surgery, removing cancer, and repairing trauma. General surgeons have the ability to examine patients, perform biopsies, and plan care. They can prescribe antibiotics and pain medication and manage complications. They are operation experts, from diagnosis through recovery.
What is Vascular Surgery?
Vascular surgeons provide both medical and surgical care for the blood vessels of the body. This includes arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymph vessels, but not usually the heart or large vessels immediately surrounding the heart -- those are cared for by cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons.
Some of the blood vessel disorders that might require treatment by a vascular surgeon include:
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
Venous thrombosis, or clots in the veins
Peripheral arterial disease, where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the legs
Carotid artery stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries leading to the brain
Vascular surgery is an unusual surgical specialty because it offers medical care, testing, and non-invasive procedures, as well as complete surgical care. So depending on the diagnosis, a vascular surgeon may offer care or treatment that is non-invasive (such as imaging, diet, or exercise), minimally invasive (such as catheter procedures), or traditional surgery.
When vascular disease disrupts oxygen and nutrients from being delivered efficiently within the body, a vascular surgeon can help restore the flow of health.
What is Interventional Cardiology?
Interventional cardiology is the treatment of heart disease without surgery, through the use of catheters. Primarily this is via a procedure called cardiac catheterization, where a long, thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, is threaded through a vein or artery up towards the heart. The catheter can be used to inject dye for x-rays, open narrowed artery walls, widen heart valves, place stents, or perform other tests and procedures.
Cardiology is a large specialty, and covers many diseases and disorders of the heart as well as several different kinds of treatments. What makes interventional cardiologists special is their ability to use minimally invasive procedures to treat heart disease. Interventional cardiologists may treat coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease, where blood vessels become narrowed or blocked. They also may repair or replace damaged heart valves.
During a cardiac catheterization, the interventional cardiologist inserts the catheter into a blood vessel through a small incision in the groin or arm. It is then threaded to the blocked artery or into the heart, where tiny tools can be passed through the tube. These tools are used to perform percutaneous coronary interventions, or procedures done to the heart and arteries via catheter. Procedures may include:
Angioplasty, or opening of blocked arteries, often via the inflation of a balloon
Atherectomy, the physical cutting away of plaque buildup
Stenting, the placement of metal springs to hold artery walls open
Heart valve repair or replacement
Closure of holes in the heart
That these procedures can be performed without the pain and recovery time of traditional surgery is truly amazing.
A specialist in general internal medicine is often referred to as an “internist.” While internal medicine physicians also provide comprehensive care, they should not be confused with general practitioners or family medicine practitioners, both of which may provide pregnancy care, deliver babies, and treat children. An internal medicine doctor specializes only in the health care of adults.
With internal medicine, there is never an illness too big or too small. These physicians have exceptionally broad-based training, and they can care for patients in any condition -- from healthy to dealing with serious medical issues. Because their scope is so wide, internal medicine physicians can provide an excellent picture of overall health.
One of the unusual aspects of internal medicine is that physicians in this field often treat their patients for a very long time -- sometimes for life. They manage preventive care when their patients are well, and they become advocates and consultants when complex medical issues arise. Because internal medicine physicians tend to treat patients over a long period of time, they are an ideal choice to manage chronic illnesses.
There are a huge number of subspecialties within internal medicine, for example: cardiology (which deals with problems of the heart and blood vessels), nephrology (which deals with diseases of the kidneys), and hospice medicine (which tends to the special needs of patients at the end of life). General internal medicine is considered a subspecialty itself and refers to internists without another specific focus. General internists provide total, primary care for the whole body of adult patients, in sickness or in health.
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