There are fewer career paths that offer the same professional satisfaction as that of a specialized doctor surgeon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for doctor surgeons in 2019 came in over $200,000, with some salaries surpassing $250,000.
And the demand for types of specialized surgeons is significant in a country like India where we understand what types of surgeons are there.
Since the dawn of surgery, there has been relentless advancement in surgical specialization, as it has become impossible for a single surgeon to keep himself abreast of recent advances and also to be able to provide service in all subspecialties in the current climate of tight clinical governance and increasing demands of patients accrued from easy access to the media.
In the past, general surgeons (GS) had to undergo a broad range of surgical training including the management of all forms of trauma patients and were expected to provide emergency service in these ﬁelds.
Over the past three decades, there has been a shift of paradigm towards types of surgeons in specialization, as the number of both doctor surgeons and patients has increased and so is the demand for a high quality of patient care.
To know more about the job search network of doctors, one should first understand the difference between each surgeon doctor.
What are the different types of Surgeon Doctors?
In the age of modern surgery, development in the body of knowledge and technical skills have led to different types of surgeons specializing in particular areas. Doctor surgeons are bound to have core knowledge in every area – anatomy, physiology, metabolism, immunology, pathology, wound healing, shock and resuscitation, intensive care, and more.
Although the complexities of the human body require a more specific study, there are specific surgical specialties doctors can devote their careers to.
So before you start your MD training and to be a verified doctor, one should familiarize themselves with the differences between these types of surgeons to better understand your options.
To start with what types of surgeons are there, as the name implies, a general doctor surgeon’s work involves a broad range of conditions that constitutes any area of the body. They are essential to support the A&E department and are particularly needed in remote or rural settings due to their broad range of competence. In the case of trauma services, they deal with injuries to the abdomen and chest.
- Duties: To establish a diagnosis and provide preoperative, operative, and post-operative care. They are responsible for the comprehensive management of trauma victims and critically ill patients.
- Common conditions addressed: Conditions that are related to the head and neck, breast, skin, soft tissues, abdominal wall, extremities, and gastrointestinal, vascular, and endocrine systems.
COLON AND RECTAL SURGEON
If a patient is facing issues with the intestinal tract, colon, rectum, anal canal, perianal area, they will likely refer to a colon and rectal doctor surgeon. While their primary focus is on such areas of the body, surgeons in this field also deal with other organs and tissues including the liver, urinary, and female reproductive systems.
- Duties: To consult and diagnose patients in the office, and treat patients experiencing problems of the intestine and colon. They perform surgeries, including abdominal surgical procedures, to address these problems. This may also include robotic surgery.
- Common conditions addressed: It can be fissures, abscesses, hemorrhoids, fistulae, conditions of the bowel lining, cancer, polyps, inflammatory conditions, chronic ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and diverticulitis.
A neurosurgeon, also commonly referred to as a “brain surgeon,” handles disorders and illnesses related to the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their supporting structures and vascular supply. This involves the brain, central nervous system, and spinal cord and covers all aspects of brain surgery, from preoperative imaging to removal of tumors.
Also to be noted is the fact that spinal surgery is the largest sub-specialty, accounting for more than 50% of the operative workload of some departments.
- Duties: To diagnose and treat patients through surgical procedures. They work with emerging technologies like computer-based neuro-navigation, spinal biomechanics and instrumentation, gene therapy, and catheter-driven endovascular techniques. They also handle surgical emergencies such as bleeding within the brain and sudden compression of the spinal cord.
- Common conditions addressed: Such as brain tumors, intracranial aneurysms, head injuries, and disorders affecting the spine, including spinal canal stenosis, herniated discs, tumors, fractures, and spinal deformities.
- Subspecialties: Spinal surgery, cerebrovascular neurosurgery, pediatric neurosurgery, complex seizure disorders, and functional surgery (movement disorders).
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OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNECOLOGIST
Under types of surgeon doctors, an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) technically operate in two areas of expertise, while an obstetric refers to a doctor who works with pregnant patients, helps deliver babies, and takes care of them after birth, the gynecologist primarily treats the conditions of the female reproductive system.
- Duties: They provide medical and surgical care to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system. They consult with patients and other doctors on health maintenance and preventive care for women.
- Common conditions addressed: Issues that are related to pregnancy, fertility, menstruation and menopause, family planning, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs), ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory diseases, breast disorders, and congenital abnormalities of the female reproductive tract.
- Subspecialties: Urogynecology, adolescent/pediatric gynecology, pelvis cope, infectious diseases, maternal-fetal medicine (care for and consult on patients with high-risk pregnancies), reproductive endocrinologists (infertility, assisted reproduction), gynecologic oncology.
What people may refer to as an “eye doctor” is clinically known as an ophthalmologist. These doctor surgeons handle comprehensive care for the eyes and vision.
- Duties: To help diagnose and treat all eye and vision problems. To provide vision services such as glasses and contact lenses. To perform surgical procedures for their treatment.
- Common conditions addressed: Amblyopia (“lazy eye”), astigmatism, cataracts, corneal dystrophies, conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), dry eye, eye cancer, glaucoma, macular degeneration, myopia (“nearsightedness”), retinal detachment, strabismus, and uveitis.
- Subspecialties: Cataracts and refractive surgery, anterior segment surgery, cornea and external diseases, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, oculoplastics, and orbit surgery, ophthalmic pathology, pediatric ophthalmology, uveitis and immunology, vitreoretinal surgery.
ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON
Doctors who work at the intersection of medicine and dentistry are commonly known as oral surgeons. They handle issues related to the head, neck, face, jaw, and hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region which consists of the jaw, cheekbone, nasal and facial structures.
- Duties: To diagnose, consults, and treat patients in the office. They administer anesthesia and perform operations.
- Common conditions addressed: Extracting wisdom teeth, misaligned jaws, tumors and cysts in the jaw and mouth, cleft palate, and dental implant surgery.
- Subspecialties: Head and neck cancer, oral medicine, craniofacial trauma, craniofacial facial deformity, and cosmetic surgery.
An orthopedic surgeon handles the diagnosis and treatment of issues related to the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, associated nerves, arteries, and overlying skin.
- Duties: To treat patients through surgical procedures as well as through the use of braces, casts, splints, or physical therapy.
- Common conditions addressed: Conditions that may be present at birth or develop during the lifetime, including congenital deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, degenerative conditions, and metabolic disturbances. They may treat secondary muscular issues in patients with central or peripheral nervous system lesions like cerebral palsy, paraplegia, or stroke.
- Subspecialties: Hand surgery, sports medicine, spine surgery, foot and ankle orthopedics, pediatric orthopedics, joint replacement, trauma surgery, and oncology.
Also commonly known as “head and neck” doctor, an otolaryngologist addresses conditions related to the ears, nose, throat and related structures such as the respiratory and upper alimentary systems.
- Duties: To perform hearing tests, administer radiotherapy, perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, handle procedures that remove polyps, correct cleft palates, and remove tumors. They refer patients to other medical specialists related to communication sciences, like audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and specialists in the chemical senses.
- Common conditions addressed: Hearing loss, ringing in the ears, sinus, balance disorders, and nasal cavity disorders, snoring, deviated septum, allergies, smell and taste disorders, migraine headaches, and disorders of the throat, esophagus, and larynx.
- Subspecialties: Otology and neurology, facial reconstructive and plastic surgery, laryngology, and sleep disorders.
A pediatric doctor surgeon specializes in diagnosing, treating, and providing post-operative care for children—from their newborn stage through their teenage years. Some forms of pediatric specialties can also usually be found in other surgical professions due to the unique and complex nature of the diseases and illnesses affecting children.
- Duties: To collaborate with other neonatologists, pediatricians, and family physicians and figure out if surgery is the best treatment option for the child.
- Common conditions addressed: Birth defects, malignant and benign tumors, fetal surgery (corrective surgery before a baby is born), and traumatic injuries.
- Subspecialties: Neonatal, prenatal, pediatric oncology, and trauma.
PLASTIC AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGEON
Plastic surgeons aren’t exclusively focused on cosmetic surgeries, but much more. The doctor surgeons, under different types of surgeon doctors, handle the repair, replacement, and reconstruction of form and function defects of the body. This includes the musculoskeletal system, craniofacial structures, oropharynx, breast, upper and lower limbs, and external genitalia.
- Duties: To conduct surgical procedures that involve the transfer of skin flaps, transplantation of tissues. Also, manage complex wounds and leverages knowledge in surgical design, surgical diagnosis, surgical & artistic anatomy, and more.
- Common conditions addressed: Congenital deformities, breast augmentation for cosmetic purposes, nose reshaping or the following mastectomy, reconstructive surgery for individuals who have sustained burns, scars, or trauma to the face, hands, or lower limbs, and removal of excess skin or body fat.
- Subspecialties: Cranio-maxillofacial surgery, hand surgery, microvascular surgery, and cosmetic surgery.
Also commonly referred to as a “heart surgeon,” a thoracic surgeon handles pathological conditions and injuries within the chest, including the coronary artery, lung, esophagus, great vessels, chest wall and heart valves, mediastinum, diaphragm, and management of the airway.
- Duties: To consults and diagnose patients experiencing intrathoracic abnormalities, use processes and systems like extracorporeal circulation, cardiac assist devices, cardiac dysrhythmia management, pleural drainage, respiratory support systems, endoscopy, and more.
- Common conditions addressed: Congenital anomalies of the chest, lung cancer, benign diseases and tumors of the lung, esophageal cancer, chest reconstruction after major trauma or surgery, and lung transplants.
- Subspecialties: Congenital or pediatric heart surgery, adult cardiac surgery, and general thoracic surgery.
Urologists address conditions of the adrenal gland and the genitourinary (reproductive and urinary) system. They operate on kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate, urethra, and testes.
- Duties: Treat patients through in-office practice, minimally-invasive endoscopies, and major open surgical procedures.
- Common conditions addressed: Incontinence, cystoscopies, nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), prostate biopsies, vasectomies, nephrectomy, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
- Subspecialties: Urologic oncology, stone disease, infertility, impotence, pediatric urology, female urology, and laparoscopy.
Vascular doctor surgeon treats patients who have a disease or illness related to arteries and veins. Their main focus is on the circulatory system.
- Duties: Consult, diagnose, and treat patients with complex blood or circulatory diseases. Operate in both open surgeries as well as endovascular procedures. May also treat patients outside of surgical means – like through medication or exercise regimens.
- Common conditions addressed: Strokes, aneurysms, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), blood clots as well as the after-effects of any arterial conditions or conditions of the vascular system.