Our surgeons answer your surgery questions

February 9, 2022

There are a multitude of reasons why surgery may be recommended to treat an ailment. Your physician will always guide you on the urgency of the procedure and it usually falls into three categories: Elective, Required or Urgent. 

An elective surgery is an optional procedure. This means the quality of your life is likely to improve with it, but your survival is not dependent on the surgery. 

A required surgery is needed to ensure the quality of your life. While it may not need to be undertaken immediately, your physician would have discussed the negative impact of not having the surgery. A kidney stone being removed, for example, is a required surgery that will improve the quality of your life and ensure that your body functions as intended. 

An urgent surgery is undertaken to save your life. A burst appendix, for example, will need immediate surgical intervention in order to prevent harm to your body. 

  1. Why is surgery beneficial to my treatment?

“If traditional examination fails to yield a diagnosis, we may recommend surgery to further explore your condition. In this way, surgery helps us treat the cause and not the symptoms you’re experiencing,” says Dr. Halalisani Zulu, General Surgeon at Busamed Harrismith Private Hospital. 

Other reasons for surgical recommendations include taking a biopsy of a suspicious lump, removing diseased tissues or organs, removing an obstruction, repositioning bodily structures, transplanting organs, implanting medical devices and so on. “Your surgeon will discuss the expected outcomes of your surgery with you prior to taking you to theatre, unless there is an emergency situation present,” says Dr. Zulu.

  1. What is the most important question to ask my surgeon?

“Start with the outcomes of the surgery and what specific benefits the recommended procedure will have for you,” says Dr Zulu. “Some surgical treatments require follow up operations. This is definitely something you want to ask your surgeon about. You can also ask your surgeon about published information on the procedure you are considering. This material might assist you in setting realistic expectations about the surgery and its risk factors.

  1. What complications can occur in surgery?

There are approximately seven common complications that can occur when you are in theatre, and while these are rare, they are still a possibility. These include shock, hemorrhaging, wound infections, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary complications, urinary retention, and a reaction to anesthesia. “All patients are individuals who may experience complications and discomforts differently,” says Dr.Zulu. “When we treat a complication, we take in the following considerations: the patient’s age, overall health, and medical history, type of surgery performed, the patient’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies. We even consider the patient’s opinion or preference for intervention.”

Dr Halalisani Zulu
General Surgeon
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