General Surgery Basics


  • Laparotomy: opening up to abdomen
  • Laparoscopy: performing keyhole surgery on the abdomen
  • Adhesions: scar tissue in the abdomen that attach its contents together (like spiderman’s webs)
  • Volvulus: twisting of the colon
  • Tenesmus: symptoms of full rectum/needing to open bowels after having emptied bowels
  • Hemicolectomy: removing a portion of the bowel
  • Hartmann’s procedure: removing rectum and/or sigmoid colon and forming a colostomy


There are three main causes of intestinal adhesions: previous surgery, peritonitis and intra-abdominal infection. Rarely radiotherapy and congenital adhesions.


Incisions / scars

  • Several (usually 3) 5-10mm scars can indicate laparoscopic procedure
  • Kocher incision – open cholecystectomy
  • Mercedes Benz incision – liver transplant
  • Rooftop Incision – liver transplant, Whipples/ pancreatic surgery, upper GI surgery
  • Left / right paramedian incision – laparotomy
  • Inguinal incision – hernia repair
  • Femoral incision – femoral vessel surgery
  • Midline incision – laparotomy, allows good access to abdominal organs
  • McBurney incision – open appendicectomy
  • Battle incision – appendicectomy
  • Lanz incision – open appendicectomy
  • Rutherford Morrison incision – renal transplant
  • Pfannenstiel incision – Caesarean section and abdominal hysterectomy
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