You’ve noticed a lump in your abdomen, followed by sharp pains. Concerned, you make an appointment with your primary care physician who, upon examination, deducts that you most likely have a hernia. What’s next? Your doctor refers you to a general surgeon to discuss your newly developed hernia and how it can be repaired.
As the name implies, general surgeons are trained to treat a broad spectrum of diseases that require surgical intervention.
The Department of General Surgery at GBMC provides patients with evaluation and treatment of simple to complex cases. Finney Trimble Surgical Associates, located on the GBMC campus, is one of the premier surgical practices in the state. Its surgeons see patients with a variety of ailments, but some are more common than others. Hernia repair, for example, accounts for 21 percent of the caseload.
“Hernias can be tricky,” says Laurence Ross, MD, general surgeon with Finney Trimble. “Some patients experience pain and others feel nothing. Surgery is imperative because, if left untreated, they run the risk of bowel strangulation, which is an emergency procedure.”
There are several types of hernias, including inguinal and umbilical. Umbilical hernias are generally found in women preceding childbirth. This is an outward protrusion of the abdominal lining or the abdominal organs, through the area around the belly button. Inguinal hernias, which are more prevalent in men, are a sac formed around the lining of the abdominal cavity. This sac comes through the abdominal wall. Both hernias can be repaired with surgery using local anesthetic and IV sedation.
Thyroid surgery is another common case seen at Finney Trimble. Joel Turner, MD, Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery at GBMC and Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery, has performed close to 2,000 endocrine procedures since his arrival at GBMC in 1999.
“I see a high volume of patients requiring thyroid surgery for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Turner. “Patients may have benign tumors that start to affect their swallowing and voice, or they may have cancer of the thyroid found using fine needle aspiration.”
Another cause for thyroid surgery is to treat hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland makes too much of the thyroid hormone. This can cause symptoms ranging from fatigue and weight loss to anxiety and muscle weakness.
Cancer patients also utilize general surgeons such as Frank Rotolo, MD, Division Head of General Surgery at GBMC. He performs a variety of procedures, from lymph node biopsies to mastectomies, and works collaboratively with the physicians of the Breast Center and GBMC’s plastic surgery team and oncologists at GBMC’s Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute.
Like most physicians, quality improvement is an integral part of the job of a general surgeon. John Flowers, MD, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at GBMC, also serves as its Physician Director of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. This nationwide program of more than 250 hospitals collects data and analyzes clinical outcomes to improve patient care.
“It allows us to compare ourselves to other hospitals, so we can create performance improvement initiatives,” he says. “This program is a clear demonstration of our commitment to quality improvement.”
For more information about general surgery at GBMC, call 443-849-GBMC (4262) or visit http://www.gbmc.org/.
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