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There are many reasons for surgery and many kinds of operations. Nevertheless, surgery may be classified as elective, urgent, or emergency.

a. Elective surgery is surgery that the patient chooses to have. It is performed for his well being, but is not absolutely necessary. In elective surgery, the physician and patient agree on a time for the surgery. It could be scheduled one day or six months in advanced. For example, a mother with four school children wants to have a face-lift. She will probably schedule her surgery during the summer months when the children are out of school.

b. Urgent surgery is essential for health, such as the removal of an inflamed appendix. Urgent surgery is always essential, but not always an emergency. Another type of urgent surgery is breast surgery for a malignancy.

c. At the other extreme is emergency surgery. This surgery is unscheduled and is done immediately to save a patient's life or limb. The need for this type of surgery is sudden and unexpected. Bullet wounds, stabbings, and car accidents often require emergency surgery.


Some of the reasons why surgery is performed are given below.

a. To obtain tissue for examination. This enables the surgeon to confirm a diagnosis.

b. To visualize internal structures during diagnosis. This is frequently performed to determine the extent of a pathologic process and sometimes to confirm a diagnosis.

c. To cure a disease by removing the diseased tissue or organs, such as an inflamed appendix.

d. To repair or remove traumatized tissue and structures. This type of surgery is performed to repair a congenital malformation; for example, the repair of a harelip.

e. To relieve symptoms by means of palliative procedures. This type of surgery is performed to relieve symptoms of a disease process. For example, an intestinal bypass would be performed to relieve the symptoms of intestinal obstruction.

f. To improve appearance by cosmetic procedures. This type of surgery is performed to restore function or normal appearance to damaged tissues; for example, a facelift.

g. To perform prophylactic procedures. This type of surgery is performed as a preventive measure; for example, removal of precancerous lesions such as a hairy mole.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

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All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015