Interesting Facts and Statistics about Medical Surgeries

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Many of the severe illnesses or diseases that humans can suffer from today can be fixed or solved by surgeries. Without surgeries, the life expectancy of humans on Earth would still be quite short, so it could be said that the medical advancements that we now benefit from today are one of the reasons why the lifespans of humans have been longer, in addition to improvements in food and living environments.

While many see the importance of surgeries today, there are still a lot of people that don’t know a lot of surgeries and their many types. To learn more about the types of surgery and the popularity of specific types, here are key facts and statistics.

Types of Surgery by Urgency

Types of Surgeries

There are different types of surgeries that have been developed over the years, and these types usually specialize in specific organs, parts, and areas of the body. However, before we get into those special types of surgery, we must talk about the two kinds of surgery that are based on diagnosis and choice, and these are elective surgery and emergency surgery.

tools for surgery

Elective Surgery

Elective surgery is usually conducted with the permission of the patient, which basically means that he or she chose to be subjected to surgery. Elective surgery can be purely optional, although there are instances where surgery should be done in order to enhance or improve the overall quality of life of the patient. [1]

For example, those that are experiencing chronic sinusitis will still be able to treat the illness with non-invasive treatments, but when the sinusitis recurs too frequently, then the patient can choose to undergo endoscopic sinus surgery that removes the tissue blockages of the sinuses. As for the optional types of elective surgery, the most well-known one is cosmetic surgery, which changes the appearance of certain body parts for aesthetic purposes.

Emergency Surgery

Unlike elective surgery where the patient has a choice if he or she wants to undergo surgery or not, emergency surgery can be performed even without the consent or permission of the patient. However, these emergency surgeries can be quite complicated, as performing specific surgeries without the consent of a patient is considered illegal. [2]

But, during situations where patients need immediate medical attention, like when they got into a car accident and need a leg or an arm amputated while they are unconscious, the surgeon has the choice to perform surgery to remove those mentioned body parts. Keep in mind that surgeons should always ask for consent for surgery if it is possible.

Different Methods of Surgery

performing an open surgery

In addition to elective and emergency surgeries, there is another classification for surgeries, and this time it is based on the method used for the surgery and how large the incisions will be made for the surgical procedure. This classification has two types, which are open and minimally invasive surgeries. To know more, here are details about those two types of surgeries based on the method of how it is performed.

Open Surgery

The most common type of surgery based on incisions is open surgery, wherein the surgeon will have to cut a large incision on the skin and tissues so that he or she can get a better view of the organ or body part that needs to be fixed or treated. [3] Most of the life-threatening diseases in the world today would require open surgery for precise treatment.

However, the downside to open surgeries is that the incisions may take a lot of time to heal, and they can sometimes cause pain and discomfort during the healing process. But, because open surgeries are usually more available compared to minimally invasive surgery, most patients would have no other possible choice but to deal with the long healing time for large incisions.

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)

Minimally invasive surgery or MIS is the type of surgery that doesn’t need large incisions. This means that only a small hole or opening is needed to be cut on the skin or tissue in order to perform surgery on a patient. However, in order for the surgeon to see the organ that will be treated, a camera would be installed in the apparatuses or tools that will be used to perform the surgery.

The advantage of MIS is that the incision made for the surgeries doesn’t require a lot of healing time, so it would be safer and more comfortable for the patient to go with an MIS surgery. But, while MIS is also inexpensive for patients, it can be quite expensive for hospitals or surgical facilities, as MIS equipment can be pricey, and the surgeons that will perform this kind of surgery will need specialized training. [4]

Types of Major Surgeries by Specialty

a surgeon getting ready for a surgery

There are so many types of surgeries that surgeons can perform in hospitals, but there are a few that are more commonly performed than others. Here are the types of major surgeries by specialty.

  • General Surgery – a type of surgery that primarily focuses on the areas or body parts that commonly require surgery, such as the head, the chest, the abdomen, the intestines, and the blood vessels.
  • Breast Surgery – is a type of surgery that primarily focuses on the breast. The two subtypes of breast surgery are breast augmentation surgery (increasing the size of the breasts) and breast reduction surgery (decreasing the size of the breasts).
  • Neurosurgery – is a surgery that is focused on fixing issues in the nervous system, specifically on the nerves and the brain. Removing brain tumors is one of the surgical procedures done in this type of surgery.
  • Pediatric Surgery – the surgery that is performed on children or young patients. Pediatric surgeons often provide the best quality of care for their patients since a child’s body is very delicate.
  • Orthopedic Surgery – this type of surgery specializes in the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body. Some of the surgeries included in this type of surgery are spinal surgery, Achilles tendon repair, meniscus repair, and open-knee surgery.
  • Trauma Surgery – is a specialized type of surgery that focuses on repairs and treatments of several injuries that can be life-threatening to the patient.
  • Colon and Rectal Surgery – surgery that is performed on the lower part of the digestive system, which includes the colon, the rectum, the appendix, and the anus.
  • Gynecological Surgery – is a specialty surgery that focuses on the reproductive system of women.
  • Ophthalmological Surgery – the type of surgery that fixes issues or problems with the eyes. The surgeries done for the eyes include cataract surgery, laser surgery, and glaucoma surgery.
  • Outpatient Surgery – also known as same-day surgery, this type of surgery does not require intensive care, so the patient can already go home after the surgery. The subtypes of outpatient surgery include circumcision, breast biopsy, vasectomy, tubal ligation, and sinus endoscopy. [5]
  • Plastic Surgery – this popular type of plastic surgery changes the appearance of certain parts of your body, although most people would have plastic surgery on their face.

The Accessibility of Surgeries

a patient sleeps on a hospital bed after surgery

Despite the rising popularity of surgeries in various countries around the world, there are still areas, cities, towns, and municipalities that don’t have access to surgeons, surgical equipment, and even hospitals that specialize in surgeries. According to the World Bank Group, 1.5 million deaths each year could be prevented if every part of the world had proper access to surgical procedures. [6] So, it is evident that surgery could be one of the most effective and efficient ways to save lives, although it is not the most accessible medical procedure.

However, what makes surgeries inaccessible for many countries is because of the high price of surgical equipment and the lack of local surgeons. But, by investing in surgeons, surgical equipment, and hospital that are properly equipped for surgeries, the countries that lack surgeries would be able to save at least $12 trillion in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 2030. [7]

The Primary Components of Creating Accessible Surgery

a doctor holding the hand of a patient

In an article written by Kelsey Christensen for Solidarity Bridge, there are four key components of accessible surgery, and each of these components wouldn’t be able to work properly if just one of them is insufficient or lacking. [8] To know more, take a close look at the details of the four key components of accessible surgery below.

  • Capacity – a city or a town should have the necessary buildings or establishments where they would be able to provide a convenient, safe, and comfortable place for performing surgeries.
  • Safety – the equipment that will be used for surgeries should be as safe as possible for patients. The surgeons should also have sufficient knowledge in conducting safe and risk-free surgeries and treatments.
  • Timeliness – the surgeries that will be done by surgeons in hospitals or clinics should always be done in a sufficient amount of time in order to not waste resources or make matters worse for the patients.
  • Affordability – the fees or payments for surgeries should be relatively affordable for all patients. The surgeries should also be conducted without the patient worrying about financial woes after the procedure is done.

While it may look easy to get these key components for accessible surgery, it can be quite difficult if the government of a town or city doesn’t really have enough funds to provide these components. All in all, what accessible surgery really needs is a proper budget, although there are still many countries and cities that don’t prioritize surgeries and health care in general.

Countries with the Best Accessibility for Surgery

Even though the number of countries and cities in the world that don’t have proper access to surgery is quite high, it is still important to talk about the countries with the best access to surgeons. One of the reasons why countries with the best access to surgeries should be talked about is because they can serve as inspiration to those countries that are lacking in surgical equipment and facilities and lead by example.

According to the World Health Organization, it is reported that there are disparities between countries when it comes to the growth of surgical care, which basically means that the number of surgeons and surgeries hasn’t really increased or improved over the years. [9]

However, a few countries were able to get through those growth disparities and produce a large number of surgeons that specializes in various types of surgeries. Here is a short list of countries with the highest of surgeons based on data provided by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery or LCGS. [10]

Interesting Facts and Statistics about Medical Surgeries

Countries with the Best Access to Surgeons

Country Number of Specialist Surgeons (per 100,000 people)
Monaco 278
Cayman Islands 172
Colombia 162
Austria 141
Estonia 127
San Marino 113
Finland 110
Switzerland 98
Lichtenstein 97
United Kingdom 92
Latvia 91
Iceland 91

The data provided by the LCGS also indicated that most African countries like Guinea and Libero have the lowest number of doctors, and it is stated that there are only about 10 to 100 doctors per million people in those areas, which is very low. Because of the lack of surgeons and general health care, those countries are often susceptible to epidemics like Ebola and HIV, and there is also a much higher death rate in those areas compared to most countries.

Countries with the Highest Death Rates

Speaking of death rates, the countries with the highest death rates would usually have underfunded or undeveloped surgical care and health care systems in various cities and towns that they occupy. With the lack of hospitals, doctors, and surgeons, it wouldn’t be surprising that those countries would have a high death rate. Here is a simple list of countries with the highest death rates from 2015 to 2020, according to the World Population Review. [11]

Countries with the Highest Death Rates (per 1,000 people)

Country Death Rate
Bulgaria 15.4
Ukraine 15.2
Latvia 14.6
Lesotho 14.3
Lithuania 13.6
Serbia 13.2
Croatia 13.1
Romania 13.0
Georgia 12.8
Russia 12.7

As seen in the data provided above, most of the countries with high death rates are located in Central and Eastern Europe. The most likely cause of the high death rates in these countries is the harsh weather conditions and environments in the areas they occupy, although there is also a reported lack of medical facilities in those countries due to underdeveloped and underfunded health care programs and systems.

According to the report written by the World Population Review, some of the leading causes of death in those countries are non-communicable diseases and cancers, which can be healed or treated using surgery. But, due to the poorly financed health care, most people in those countries die from these non-communicable diseases without even getting a proper diagnosis.

Countries with the Lowest Death Rates

Of course, there are also countries with the lowest death rates, and these countries would often have very developed health care systems in place for their constituents. The country with the lowest death rate is Qatar, which is located in the Middle East, and the reason why Qatar has such a low death rate is because of how well they have prepared surgical care and health care for their citizens. However, the low death rate in Qatar can also be attributed to the people’s healthier diet and higher living standards compared to those that are living in other countries. Here is a list of countries with the lowest death rates. [12]

Countries with the Lowest Death Rates (per 1,000 people)

Country Death Rate
Qatar 1.2
United Arab Emirates (UAE) 1.5
Bahrain 2.4
Oman 2.4
Kuwait 2.7
Maldives 2.8
Saudi Arabia 3.5
Palestine 3.5
Jordan 3.9
Solomon Islands 4.3

Interestingly, while most of the countries with the highest death rates are located in Central and Eastern Europe, most of the countries with the lowest death rates are found in the Middle East. Besides the highly nutritional diet that people in the Middle East prefer, those countries mentioned in the list above also have high-quality health care services for their citizens. Some of the mentioned countries would even have some of the best medical and surgical facilities in the world, which further emphasize those countries’ focus on bringing the best health care to their constituents.

The Common Surgical Procedures in the US

Although the United States is not considered to have the most number of surgeons or the best surgeons in the world, surgeries are still quite common in the country, most likely due to the fact that surgeries are relatively more affordable in the US compared to other countries. Here are the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. [13]

The Most Common Surgical Procedures in the US

Name of Surgical Procedure Number of Patients Per Year
Cataract Removal 3 Million+
C-Section (Cesarean Delivery) 1.3 Million+
Joint Replacement (Knee and Hip Replacements) 1 Million+
Circumcision 1 Million+
Bone Repair 670,000+
Angioplasty 500,000+
Hysterectomy 500,000+
Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Removal) 460,000+
Stent Placement 454,000+
Heart Bypass Surgery 395,000+

Some of the surgical procedures mentioned above are fairly simple surgeries, but there are also some that can be quite complicated depending on the severity of the patient’s illness. In case you don’t know, here are brief descriptions of the surgical procedures that are common in the US.

  • Cataract Removal – is the removal of the cataract that builds up on the lens of the eyes and makes a person’s vision cloudy.
  • C-Section – also called cesarean delivery, this type of surgery is utilized to deliver a baby inside the womb through incisions that are created on the abdomen and the uterus.
  • Joint Replacement – replacing a damaged joint on the knees or hips that are often caused by arthritis or injuries. An artificial joint is typically used as a replacement for damaged joints.
  • Circumcision – is a surgical procedure that removes the upper portion of the penis’s skin, which usually covers the head of the penis.
  • Bone Repair – repairing broken bones using metal plates, rods, and screws that keep specific parts of the broken bones in place while they heal.
  • Angioplasty – a type of surgical procedure wherein the coronary arteries that are clogged with plaque will be opened up using a stent, which is a tubular netting that pushes the plaque outward to create an opening on the clogged artery.
  • Hysterectomy – a surgical procedure that removes the uterus of a female patient so that she can no longer get pregnant. Some procedures would even remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes as well.
  • Cholecystectomy – a type of procedure wherein the gallbladder under the liver is removed. The removal of the gallbladder is necessary to get rid of gallstones, which sometimes build up on the gallbladder and cause pain and discomfort.
  • Stent Placement – the placement of the tubular netting called stent on certain organs of the body. Although stents are usually placed in the arteries, they can also be applied to veins, intestines, and the esophagus.
  • Heart Bypass Surgery – the surgery that is performed to redirect blood flow from one healthy artery to another while cutting blood flow from a blocked artery. A new artery is often collected from the blood vessel of your leg or arm and is placed below and above the blocked artery, thus creating a new line of blood flow for the heart.

Some of the surgical procedures mentioned, like heart bypass surgery and angioplasty, can truly save the lives of people that are affected by serious illnesses or diseases. Those that are also suffering from life-threatening or career-ending injuries also benefit greatly from surgeries, as they will be able to find ways to continue living normally and possibly still pursue their goals in their respective careers.

References

[1] John Hopkins Medicine. Types of Surgery. John Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/types-of-surgery

[2] Wishnia, J. (2020, October 19). What is Surgical Consent? Does It Have to be a Written Document? Legal Match. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/surgical-consent-issues.html

[3] Stanford Medicine Health Care. General Surgery Types: What are the Different Methods of Surgery? Stanford Medicine Health Care. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/g/general-surgery/types.html

[4] Ciuffo, G. (2016, June 15). Advantages and Disadvantages of Minimally Invasive Surgery. Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery (MIBHS). Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://heartsurgeryinfo.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-minimally-invasive-surgery/

[5] Hurley Medical Center. Types of Surgery. Hurley Medical Center. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.hurleymc.com/services/surgical/types-of-surgery/

[6] The World Bank. (2015, March 26). Surgery Could Save Millions of Lives in Developing Countries. The World Bank. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2015/03/26/surgery-could-save-millions-of-lives-in-developing-countries

[7] Sahm, P. (2016, April 6). MAKING MUCH NEEDED SURGERY ACCESSIBLE TO BILLIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE. University of Utah Health. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://healthcare.utah.edu/publicaffairs/news/2016/04/Global_Surgery_Roadmap.php

[8] Christensen, K. (2018, September 24). The Key Components of Accessible Surgery. Solidarity Bridge. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.solidaritybridge.org/blog/keystosurgicalaccess

[9] World Health Organization. What is global surgery? World Health Organization (WHO). Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.who.int/teams/integrated-health-services/clinical-services-and-systems/surgical-care

[10] Sheth, K. (2017, April 25). 12 Countries With The Best Access To Surgeons. World Atlas. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/12-countries-with-the-best-access-to-surgeons.html

[11] World Population Review. Death Rate by Country 2022. World Population Review. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/death-rate-by-country

[12] Statista Research Department. (2022, August 18). Countries with lowest death rates 2020. Statista. Retriedved August 27, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/562759/ranking-of-20-countries-with-lowest-death-rates/

[13] Dallas, M.E. (2021, September 10). The 10 Most Common Surgeries in the US. HealthGrades. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/tests-and-procedures/the-10-most-common-surgeries-in-the-u-s

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