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Surgery - Types and Importance

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Surgery is done to repair or remove the diseased body part. Read the article below to learn the different types of surgery.

Written by

Dr. Anahita Ali

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shivpal Saini

Published At July 24, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 24, 2023


Pulse rate monitors, oximeters, digital health tools, and web-based surgical tutorial videos! It seems so normal these days to use such technologies in everyday life. Browsing the internet to find out the normal blood pressure range or researching the use of medicine when prescribed by a doctor are now common human behaviors. Modern medical advances have made human lives so much easier. But where did this progress, particularly the surgical advances, come from?

The field of surgery progressed to a higher level during the old days, as seen in India, Greece, China, etc. The 18th century brought an increased understanding of surgical procedures such as tumors and kidney stones. Then, in the 19th century, the famous microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, studied the relationship between germs (bacteria) and infectious diseases, which brought an evolution to the medical field around the globe. Later on, the discovery of X-rays brought another change in the medical field during the 20th century, and so on, leading to a new era of modern surgery.

Modern surgery is greatly advanced by diagnostic tools such as blood pressure monitoring, pulse rate monitoring, etc. The modern era has also witnessed new surgical technologies developing with time worldwide that have replaced many old techniques. Nowadays, surgical procedures are less invasive (less painful) and time-consuming, with a fast recovery rate. In addition, the world is moving towards robotic surgeries now. As a result, surgeries meant to save lives and improve quality of life have become a crucial aspect of healthcare systems worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), millions of people undergo surgeries yearly, accounting for 13 % of the World's Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

What Is Surgery?

Surgery is a type of treatment that involves cutting the body parts by removing or repairing the diseased or injured body parts. The main aim of surgery is to repair or completely remove the damaged or diseased body part and improve the quality of life.

How Many Types of Surgery Are There?

Types of surgeries based on the type of method or procedure are listed below :

  1. Open Surgery - It means cutting the skin so the surgeon can see the internal body part or organs. For example, open-heart surgery.

  2. Minimal Invasive Surgery - It means the surgery is less painful and requires less or minimum cutting of skin or tissues.

Different types of minimally invasive surgeries are:

  • Endoscopy - It is a non-surgical method used to examine or check the food pipe (digestive tract) through a camera and other tools.

  • Laparoscopy - It is done to examine the diseased organs present in the stomach area, including the intestines, liver, spleen, etc.

  • Gastroscopy - It is done to examine the upper parts of the digestive system (food pipe, stomach, and throat).

  • Arthroscopy - It is a diagnostic tool to examine the body joints such as the knee joint, ankle, etc.

  • Bronchoscopy - It is done to examine the lungs' airways(bronchi).

  • Hysteroscopy - It is done to examine the female reproductive parts through the vagina.

  • Cystoscopy - It is done to examine the urinary tract.

  • Sigmoidoscopy - It is done to examine the lower one-third part of the large intestine during constipation, diarrhea, etc.

  • Laryngoscopy - It is done to examine the voice box (larynx).

3. Other Types:

  • Laser Surgery - It is a type of surgery involving a special light beam (LASER) to do surgery instead of a knife and other instruments.

  • Electrosurgery - It is a type of surgery involving a high-frequency electric current to cut the skin or tissue.

Types of surgeries based on the type of need or urgency:

  1. Emergency Surgery - A type of surgery done when the patient urgently needs surgery. An unplanned surgery may lead to serious health consequences or death if delayed. For example, bypass surgery after a sudden heart attack, an accident, etc.

  2. Elective Surgery - It is a type of surgery that a surgeon plans after assessing the patient's condition or disease. For example, bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), knee surgery, cataract surgery, etc.

Types of surgeries based on the seriousness of surgery or the risks associated with it:

  1. Minor Surgery - It is a type of surgery with a low risk of complications and fast recovery time. Such procedures are of short duration, such as half-hour or one hour, and the patient can go home the same day after the surgery. For example, dental implantation.

  2. Major Surgery - It is a type of surgery with a high risk of complications, and the recovery time is long. The patient stays in the hospital for some days. For example, organ transplant and tumor removal.

Types of surgeries based on the specialty:

  1. General Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves major surgical treatments. It is used to treat diseases of the head and neck, chest, stomach, etc., and manage patients who are injured or have deformities in the body that need surgery.

  2. Colon And Rectal Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves intestine, stomach diseases, and other organs such as the liver.

  3. Thoracic Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves the treatment of pathological conditions involving the chest, such as lung cancer and esophagus (food pipe).

  4. Neurologic Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves treating the nervous system.

  5. Ophthalmic Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves the treatment of eyes and vision.

  6. Gynecologic Oncology - A branch of surgery that involves the management of cancer in the female reproductive system.

  7. Orthopedic Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves treating the musculoskeletal system, such as muscles, bones, joints, etc.

  8. Oral And Maxillofacial Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves the treatment of the head, neck, and face.

  9. Pediatric Surgery - A branch of surgery mainly concerned with treating children aged 0 to 18 years.

  10. Urology - It is a branch of surgery that involves the treatment of the adrenal gland, urinary system, and reproductive system.

  11. Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery - A branch of surgery that involves improving aesthetic appearance and repairing and replacing body defects involving skin and muscles.

  12. Others - Apart from the major specialties mentioned above, there are other specialties, such as vascular surgery, otolaryngology, etc., that include surgical care associated with other body parts such as ears, nose, blood vessels, etc.

What Is the Need for Surgery?

Surgery can be done for many reasons, such as -

  • Accident or emergency.

  • Explore the condition of a disease or diagnose a condition.

  • Repair or remove a diseased or damaged body part.

  • Restore body structures to their original positions and shape. For example, fixing fractured bones and fractured joints.

  • Remove obstructions. For example, urinary bladder stones.

  • Improve appearance physically. For example, cosmetic surgery.

  • Transplant or replace a damaged organ with a healthy organ.

  • Redirect flow of blood in blood vessels. For example, bypass heart surgery.


Surgery is never the first step in treating a disease or medical condition because it involves cutting tissues or removing organs or body parts that get diseased or damaged. In addition, the purpose, recovery time, success rate, pain level, and risks and benefits of the surgery type vary. Therefore, it is advisable to get complete and right information about the need for surgery, its type, possible risks, and benefits before undergoing any surgery.

Dr. Shivpal Saini
Dr. Shivpal Saini

General Surgery


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