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General Surgery

A broad and diverse speciality, general surgery accounts for approximately 31% of the consultant surgical workforce and is one of the largest medical specialities. During recent years and in common with many other disciplines there has been a trend towards further specialisation within the speciality. These subspecialties are sometimes referred to as ‘areas of special interest’ within general surgery as they do not have separate speciality advisory committees (SACs) within the structure of the four surgical royal colleges. A shared curriculum and the ability at the completion of training to manage an unselected surgical emergency ‘take’ provide a common theme across the individual subspecialities. 

The major areas of special interest associated with general surgery as a speciality are:

  • Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery (oesophagogastric, hepatopancreaticobiliary and bariatric surgery)
  • Colorectal Surgery (also known as coloproctology)
  • A combination of upper gastrointestinal surgery and coloproctology, known as General or Specialist Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Transplantation Surgery (renal, hepatic and pancreatic)
  • Breast Surgery (including oncoplastic surgery)
  • Endocrine Surgery

In addition to these clearly defined disease-based areas of special interest there are others that are less well developed within the syllabus but represent substantial areas of practice:

  • Military Surgery
  • General Surgery of Childhood
  • Remote and Rural Surgery

The variations in scope of practice within the specialty largely shaped by local circumstances, service needs and the personal development and experience of individual surgeons. All general surgeons are expected to have developed an area of special interest by the time they complete their training. Some will then go on to practice exclusively in that discipline either straightaway or as their careers progress. There is also significant shared practice with other major specialities such as head and neck surgery, urology and paediatric surgery.

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