Surgery is a system of treatment for certain diseases which usually require operative intervention. If the signs and symptoms a patient presents denote a surgical diagnosis, he is placed on the surgical service of the hospital, and thereafter he undergoes surgical treatment whether he has an operation or not. In many cases the surgeon will elect not to operate, but the treatment still falls in the category of surgery.
This may seem like a minor point of definition, but it is important to outline the scope of surgery. It is not just that treatment which goes on in the operating room, but rather includes the preparation of the patient for operation, postoperative care, prevention and treatment of complications, rehabilitation, and also the treatment of patients with conditions which require an operation. When a doctor states that a patient underwent surgery, he does not mean necessarily that an operation was performed; he means that the patient was treated for a condition which placed him in one of the surgical categories. To be sure, all broken bones are not treated by operation, but a broken bone presents a surgical condition, treated by a surgeon, on the surgical service of the hospital. In other words, the patient undergoes surgery.
A second example is the patient with minimal appendicitis which is subsiding. The surgeon may deem it not necessary to remove the appendix, but the patient nevertheless undergoes surgical treatment, because his diagnosis places him in a surgical category and he is treated for a surgical condition.
Surgery must be thought of as a field of treatment, not merely as an operation. In many cases, where operation is performed, the preoperative preparation of the patient or his postoperative care play a more important role than the operation itself. The operation may be successful, but, for want of proper preparation and after-care, the surgery may fail.
This is the realm of surgery, and in this book the author will attempt to give the pertinent facts about all phases of surgical conditions.