Every year more than 15 million people in the U.S. have surgery. There are many reasons to have surgery. Some operations can relieve or prevent pain. Others can reduce a symptom of a problem or improve some body function. Some surgeries are done to find a problem. For example, a surgeon may do a biopsy, which involves removing a piece of tissue to examine under a microscope. Some surgeries, like heart surgery, can save your life.
In recent years there have been many advances in surgery. Not long ago, all surgeries involved cutting with a scalpel. Today, some surgeries are done with lasers. Some operations that once needed large incisions - cuts in the body - can now be done using much smaller incisions.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)