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What are the Different Types of Surgeons?

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There are more types of surgeons today than 30 years ago due to the increasing specialization of medicine in the United States. This is a trend that offers patients surgeons who are more knowledgeable in their areas of specialization. However, it is a trend that also has contributed to the shortage of surgeons in the country, cited as significant problems by groups including general surgeons, heart and lung surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and vascular surgeons.

A Look at Some of the Types of Surgeons

  • General surgeon. Usually staffs emergency rooms and is trained to handle patients of all ages with conditions affecting virtually any area of the body. Must be knowledgeable about injuries and conditions ranging from the head and neck to the abdomen and extremities and vascular and endocrine systems. General surgeons often handle trauma patients in life and death situations.
  • Pediatric surgeon. This surgeon diagnoses and treats conditions and illnesses that affect newborns up to adolescents. Trained in neonatal surgery, especially as it deals with birth defects, prenatal surgery, often birth defects or abnormalities during fetal development and trauma and pediatric oncology.
  • Vascular surgeon. This surgeon specializes in diseases that strike the arteries, veins and lymphatic systems, though not directly affecting the heart. Vascular surgeons are experts in hardening of the arteries and can open arterial blockages and manage aneurysms through surgical intervention.
  • Ophthalmologic surgeon - This surgeon handles conditions that affect the eyes and vision. Common procedures include cataract operations, corneal surgery and basic glaucoma procedures.
  • Plastic surgeon. This surgeon repairs, replaces and reconstructions defects or conditions affecting the skin and musculoskeletal system. Particular emphasis is paid to the head and face and in changing the way some body structures look.
  • Surgery of the hand. A surgical specialty that treats patients with injuries, abnormalities or diseases of the hand. Hand surgeons are skilled in microvascular surgery, which is necessary to reattach amputated fingers.
  • Thoracic surgeon - This surgeon helps patients with conditions in the chest and heart, such as coronary artery diseases, cancers of the lung and wall and abnormalities in the heart. Thoracic surgeons also are experts in oncology.
  • Urology surgeon - This surgeon diagnoses and treats both benign and cancerous growths and disorders in the adrenal gland and the genitourinary system.

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