Trauma and Trauma Surgery

Understanding Trauma and How It is Treated

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Surgeons in the OR. Photo:© Getty Images

Definition: Trauma surgery is the branch of surgical medicine that deals with treating injuries caused by an impact. 

Trauma Explained

Trauma is the injuries suffered when a person experiences blunt force.  You may also hear trauma referred to as a "major trauma." Many trauma patients are the victims of car crashes, stabbings and gun shot wounds. Trauma can also be caused by falls, crush type injuries and pedestrians being struck by a car.

Traumatic injuries can affect internal organs, bones, the brain, and the other soft tissues of the body.  No area of the body is immune to trauma, but trauma can range from minor (hitting your finger with a hammer) to major (being hit by a car traveling at a high rate of speed or falling off of a building). 

Who Performs Trauma Surgery

In the case of severe trauma, such as a catastrophic car crash, the trauma surgeon may be one part of a surgical team that includes general surgeons (to repair internal abdominal injuries) vascular surgeons (to repair damage to blood vessels), orthopedic surgeons (to repair broken bones) and other surgeons as needed.

For surgeons, extensive education is required in order to practice in their chosen field.  For general surgeons, 5 years of surgical training as a residency is required. For surgeons who want to specialize, the same five year residency is completed, followed by additional years of training in the area of specialization.


What to Expect When You Need Emergency Surgery

Examples: The trauma surgeon was called to the emergency room to evaluate the patient, a victim of a car crash.

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