Every patient undergoing surgery wonders. "Is it really necessary?" and "Will I recover from this operation?" No matter how minor the procedure, a certain amount of natural anxiety exists as to the outcome. It is unfortunate that with the growth of specialization in medicine, a lot of the personal bond between patient and physician has been lost. Yet the modern surgeon is just as concerned about you and your problems as the old-fashioned doctor used to be.

A surgeon is a busy person, sometimes too busy, to stop and put his arm around you and tell you that everything is going to be all right. But he is also a dedicated person; dedicated to the good health and happiness of the patients he attends. He will always try to quell anxiety, dispel false fears, and tell the facts about any risks which may be involved. And although something intimate may have been lost over the years, something far more reassuring has been gained: the safety of surgery!

The safety of surgery has increased so greatly within the last century that risks today have been reduced to minimal proportions.

The huge reduction in post-operative death and complications is not accidental. The great increase in medical knowledge and the vastly improved methods of teaching and training are largely responsible for this happy state of affairs. Great surgeons trained pupils who eventually outshone them and they in turn produced today's surgeons, who, in many instances, excel their predecessors. Truly, each new generation starts where the old one has left off.

Over the past 20 to 30 years, measures have been found to overcome most of the great dangers of surgery, so that today it is unusual for a patient to develop a complication, which cannot be anticipated and/or controlled. Here is a list of these complications most of which are avoidable and controllable by recent advances in medicine:

  1. Pneumonia: Hitherto, most feared aftermath of a surgical procedure is now a readily controllable complication. More common in elderly and/or in prolonged immobilization. Antibiotic therapy will usually return the patient to normal within two or three days.

  2. Embolism: This breaking off of a blood clot and traveling from a lower limb to the lung occurs much less frequently today because of "early mobilization", means getting the patient out of bed and walking on the first or second postoperative day. This activity keeps the circulation flowing at a more normal rate and tends to prevent stagnation of blood, with the possible formation of a blood clot (thrombus).

    Should a thrombus, or even an embolus, develop; medicine has discovered excellent drugs to prevent the process from spreading. By giving anticoagulants, mortality rates following embolism have been reduced remarkably.

  3. Wound Infection: One of the finest discoveries in the field of surgery has been the concept of anti-sepsis. Today, with improved surgical techniques and the use of antibiotic drugs, this percentage has been reduced greatly. In many large institutions where several thousand operations are performed during the course of the year, it is not unusual to find that not a single patient has died as a result of a complicating wound infection!

  4. Postoperative Bleeding and wound rupture are exceedingly rare today, due to vastly improved suture materials, better-trained surgeons, and the eradication of most wound infections
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