Medically reviewed by
Dr. Jennifer Mihalik
McLeod Surgery Cheraw
In a world of medical specialists and subspecialists, the description of “General Surgeon” can be a bit confusing.
“The General Surgeon is actually a specialist, who is trained to perform surgery on many areas of the body,” says McLeod General Surgeon Dr. Jennifer Mihalik. “From the head, neck and endocrine system, down through the chest, breast, abdomen and pelvis, a General Surgeon has to understand and be able to repair many areas of the body.”
Hernia repair and gallbladder removal represent some of the most common procedures performed by General Surgeons. In hernia repair, the surgeon reinforces a weak region in the abdominal wall to prevent organs from popping through the wall. When gallstones block the bile duct, pancreatic duct or both, removal of the problem gall bladder (cholecystectomy) may be recommended. With advances in technology and new techniques perfected by general surgeons, most hernia and gallbladder surgeries are now performed laparoscopically. In this minimally invasive approach, cameras and surgical instruments enter the body through small hollow tubes inserted in several tiny incisions of an inch or less. This compares to traditional surgery that requires open incisions of several inches.
Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery holds a number of patient advantages over traditional open surgery. Smaller incisions result in less blood loss and smaller scars than open surgery. Patients experience significantly reduced pain following surgery as well as a shorter recovery period, leading to a faster return to the patient’s normal life activities and routine.
SEEING A GENERAL SURGEON
Often a patient is referred to a general surgeon by their primary care physician, who has diagnosed a problem and unsuccessfully tried some non-surgical treatment. For some procedures, including hernia repair and gallbladder surgery, you can self-refer, finding a general surgeon on your own. In any case, be sure that the surgeon you ultimately choose will perform your surgery at a hospital that focuses on quality and safety.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Board of Surgery, American College of Surgeons, American Society of General Surgeons