Having to get surgery of any kind is scary. There are always some risks involved, and the healing process almost always involves some degree of discomfort. However, surgery today is a lot safer than it was 50, 20, and even 10 years ago. Here's a look at some of the general surgical advancements that have made procedures a lot less worry-inducing.
1. Arthroscopic procedures
A lot of the risks associated with most surgeries have to do with the incision. The larger the incision, the greater the risk of it healing poorly, becoming infected, or causing great pain. More and more, doctors are now performing surgeries arthroscopically. This means they make a couple of tiny incisions and then perform the surgery through those incisions, using a camera and tiny instruments. The healing time is a lot shorter, there's a lower risk for infection, and you won't have as much pain as you recover. So many procedures, from tendon repair to appendix removal, can be done this way.
2. Improved local and regional anesthesia
Anesthesia is another component that makes surgery risky. People worry that they won't wake up from general anesthesia or that they will experience side effects like nausea and vomiting once they wake up. With some surgeries, like abdominal surgery, vomiting after anesthesia is pretty risky. Luckily, local and regional anesthetics have come a long way. Doctors can more often simply numb the body part to be operated on, give the patient a heavy sedative, and do the procedure without having to put patients fully under. Really major operations, like hip replacements and cardiac bypasses, still need to be done under general anesthetic, but the list of procedures that don't require general anesthesia is growing.
3. Ultrasound guidance
Surgeons are now using ultrasound to guide their procedures more often. The ultrasound monitor allows them to see, on the screen, where their surgical instruments are in relation to parts of the body. With this guidance, they can often perform abdominal procedures without having to remove or move the intestines or other organs, which reduces the risk of infection and speeds healing. In joint surgeries, ultrasound guidance can reduce the risk of a surgeon nicking a tendon or other joint structure during the procedure.
Surgery is never without its risks, but those risks have become much smaller in recent years, thanks to the innovations above. Talk to a general surgeon to learn more about a specific procedure.