General and Digestive Surgery

What is and what is the scope of general and digestive surgery?

General and Digestive Surgery cover every digestive system disease which requires surgical treatment. This can be also an alternative to other treatments. The organs that make up the digestive system are all those which are necessary for food digestion, from the mouth to the anus (esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, intestine, colon, etc.). There are also included the treatments for solving any problem arising from the abdominal wall, which is the organ that supports the viscera (inguinal hernia, hernias, etc.), from the mammary gland (breast) or endocrine diseases (thyroid, suprarenal glands, etc.).

Since Obesity Surgery involves reducing the stomach and splicing the intestine, it belongs to the Digestive Surgery and it is known as Bariatric Surgery. Nowadays, it is almost exclusively performed with laparoscopic surgery, without opening the abdomen.

What is Oncologic Surgery?

The Oncolgic or Cancer Surgery performed in the abdominal organs is obviously a very important part of the Digestive Surgery. Nowadays, the results and life expectancy have improved dramatically regarding digestive tumors, not only because of the improvement of surgical techniques, but also because of the increase in effectiveness of the treatments that complement surgery (chemotherapy and radiotherapy).

This is undoubtedly the “hardest aspect” in digestive surgery and there is still a long way to go with some kind of tumors. The colon and rectum cancer are the clearest example of the substantial improvement in the results obtained that has taken place in the last years (over 50% healing), thanks to the improvements in surgical technique and to the fact that, currently, a radical surgery is being performed in order to prevent its dissemination to other organs (mainly extirpation of liver metastases), which is supported mainly by a significant progress in the complementary treatment (chemotherapy and radiotherapy).

What is Laparoscopic Surgery?

The Laparoscopic surgery is a kind of operation which is less aggressive than the traditional method. It is about performing the same operations as previously performed (and as are performed today in many cases and in many centers) through the practice of abdominal scars, with a size that depends on the operation, which are small incisions from 3 to 12 mm (usually between 3 and 5 of them). A TV mini-camera (laparoscope) is introduced through one of these incisions, and it will be used for seeing inside the abdomen without having to open it.

Nowadays, almost all operations that can be performed by traditional open surgery can also be performed laparoscopically, and they should only be performed by specially trained gastrointestinal surgeons. This is a benefit for the patient, not only aesthetically, but it also entails less postoperative pain, a faster recovery and fewer wound infections. There are a big number of operations in which laparoscopy has become widespread. Now it is a usual practice, such as those of gallbladder, hiatal hernia, morbid obesity, spleen, colon, suprarenal glands, inguinal hernia and eventration (incisional hernia). Other high-complexity operations, such as pancreas, liver, rectum, esophagus and stomach operations are more and more usually performed this way with great results, although they require an extensive training and specialization in laparoscopic surgery.