The surgical treatment of diseases of the gall bladder, liver and pancreas and esophagus, stomach and small bowel (upper gastrointestinal tract) is performed under the care of the general surgeon who is specialized in upper gastrointestinal surgery. The conditions treated are many and different. They often require the assistance of physicians (gastroenterologists) and specialist nurses.
Not all patients seen by a upper gastrointestinal surgeon will necessarily need an operation. Often they are the first doctor a patient with abdominal symptoms may see; a large part of their job is the initial investigation and drug treatment of many conditions. Upper gastrointestinal surgeons frequently advise and perform endoscopic evaluation of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Some of the conditions treated are
Many Upper GI Surgeons have become expert at hernia surgery because their exposure to keyhole techniques allow them to offer minimally invasive surgery for this common condition. Hernias are defects in the abdominal wall that often cause pain, discomfort and unsightly cosmetic deformity. The only successful treatment is surgical where a range of techniques can be used fix the defect. The most common hernia types are inguinal and incisional. Inguinal and small body wall hernias are usually repaired laparoscopically, while larger hernias can require quite complex abdominal wall reconstructive techniques.
A pancreatectomy is the surgical removal of part of the pancreas. The most common reason to require removal of part of the pancreas is to treat cancerous or pre-cancerous tumors. Some of these procedures can be performed laparoscopically and others require open surgery as other organs attached to the pancreas may also need removal (otherwise known as a "Whipple's" procedure). Pancreatectomy was once viewed as being highly dangerous but improved training, expertise and post-operative care reveal that the risks have dramatically reduced over the last decade or so.