General surgery

Surgery is a medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of surgical diseases, malformations, injuries and their further consequences. 

What is general surgery?

To a certain extent, a general surgeonis an all-rounder. The specialty includes all diseases, injuries and malformations affecting the musculoskeletal system, blood vessels, chest area and internal organs.

This can include:

  • Haemorrhoids
  • Inguinal hernias
  • Varicose veins
  • Goitre

General surgeons are responsible for the surgery itself, as well as the patient’s non-surgical primary and emergency care.

Surgical treatment is the focus of this care, i.e. a cure by means of an invasive intervention (an operation), though in many cases a non-invasive (non-surgical) option may also be possible.  

An operation is defined as an instrumental surgical intervention on or within the patient’s body for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This is usually carried out under anaesthetic. Wherever possible and when it makes sense, minimally invasive techniques are used.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

The difference between minimally invasive surgery and conventional surgery comes down to access: minimally invasive surgery uses specialist instruments and techniques to reach the affected area with an endoscope. Minimally invasive surgery is an umbrella term encompassing several different surgical techniques using small incisions through which an endoscope is inserted with specialist instruments so that the operation can be carried out via a video camera. 

Benefits include:

  • Small incisions
  • Reduced pain levels compared to conventional operations
  • Minimises scarring, improving aesthetic results
  • Shorter recovery times, quicker return to work
  • Reduced risk of adhesions or scars reopening

Disadvantages include:

  • Longer operations
  • Expensive
  • No 3D perception
  • Additional incision required to remove resected tissue
  • Limited radicality

Applications and approaches

Huge advances in minimally invasive surgery have led to greatly increased popularity in recent years. However, it requires more technology and is more difficult for surgeons than conventional surgery – surgeons require specialised skills to operate the necessary surgical instruments: a good sense of space and good coordination, for example. 

Most interventions are carried out using specific optical lenses and instruments inserted into different parts of the body, such as through the abdominal wall. Carbon dioxide is pumped into the abdominal cavity to create sufficient room for the intervention during laparoscopic surgery. Increasing space at the operation site and targeting the lighting provides optimum conditions for the surgeon to get a good view during surgery. Thanks to technical advancements, laparoscopic procedures can now be used to treat many diseases and orthopaedic issues. 

Minimally invasive surgery is gaining in popularity due to the constant evolution of the technology and instruments used. We are able to offer the whole range of general surgery; here are some examples of the procedures we are able to offer as minimally invasive surgery:

  • Inguinal hernia operations
  • Hiatal hernia and anti-reflux surgery
  • Bowel surgery (e.g. diverticular disease)
  • Diagnostic abdominal surgery and specific tissue biopsies from a range of organs
  • Gall bladder surgery
  • Incisional and abdominal hernias
  • Appendicectomy (appendix removal)
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Thyroid and parathyroid surgery
  • Splenectomy (spleen removal)

Surgery is used as a treatment across several medical disciplines and the specialty of ‘general surgery’ is evolving, with a growing tendency towards further specialism. For example, abdominal surgery is now often undertaken by organ specialists or visceral surgeons despite being a part of general surgery. Our surgeons very often have an additional specialty. 

Disciplines related to general surgery:

  • Visceral surgery
  • Thoracic medicine
  • Internal medicine
  • Gynaecology
  • Urology
  • ENT
  • Ophthalmology

Some conditions require interdisciplinary treatment. 

Interdisciplinary patient management and treatment are of growing significance in hospitals, improving care for patients. Swiss Medical Network is setting up multidisciplinary Centres of Excellence with a focus on bringing together different specialties or units to diagnose and treat groups of conditions. In our centres, medical specialists work together in a specific area and all treatments are discussed on a regular basis within our interdisciplinary tumour board. Surgeons, oncologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, radio-oncologists and other specialists all collaborate to pinpoint the best possible treatment or surgery plan for each individual patient. We will then take the time to have an extensive conversation with you to discuss your full treatment plan and answer any questions you may have.  

The following Centres of Excellence are part of our network:

  • Centre du Sein(breast centre)
  • Neurocentre

Aftercare: you’re not alone

After treatment, you’ll go back to your routine and be monitored by your treating physician: both of you have our full support. We will do whatever it takes to achieve long-term treatment success for you. That is why we test for possible aftereffects and side effects. Your aftercare plan will be tailored to your needs, just like your treatment was. You will need to see specialists and physiotherapists on occasion for consultations and check-ups.