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General surgery

 Abdominal symptoms and hernias diagnosed and treated rapidly.

General surgery is an umbrella term to describe a plethora of surgical procedures that fall under a number of different medical subspecialties. It can range from surgery concerning your stomach health, such as bowel and gastrointestinal surgery, to surgical treatment for skin problems, traumatic injuries, and even breast health.  

General surgery is performed by specialists with a variety of skills and expert clinical knowledge. At The Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, our Consultant General Surgeons are highly skilled in performing surgery across all relevant subspecialties. They treat people in Harrow, Wembley, Northolt and further afield. To find out more about our general surgery services, you can call us on 0208 8723872 or book an appointment with one of our Consultants online today.

There are many symptoms that might indicate you require general surgery. These include:  

  • Pain caused by a traumatic injury 
  • Feeling and being sick 
  • Yellowing of the skin 
  • Nausea 
  • Fever or chill 
  • Unusual bowel movements 
  • Severe abdominal pain 

Because the specialty covers such a variety of conditions and complaints, there are countless symptoms that might lead to an appointment with a General Surgeon. At The Clementine Churchill Hospital, our team of compassionate specialists is here to diagnose your condition and build a tailored treatment plan based on your needs. If you do require general surgery to alleviate your symptoms, they will ensure you are informed and supported throughout each step of your journey to better health.

You can usually see a Consultant General Surgeon for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. 
During this first appointment, your Consultant will ask about your general health and take a detailed examination of your medical history. They will want to know about existing medical conditions you suffer from, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They will also want to know how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur and whether you have tried treatment options for them already. In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your concern, your Consultant will gently carry out a physical examination and arrange for relevant diagnostic testing, if required. 
After your Consultant has determined the cause of your symptoms, they will share more information about surgery and whether it might be the right treatment option for you. It is important to remember that your initial consultation is a positive step in your journey toward better health. Your Consultant is there to answer any questions you might have about surgery and ease any concerns you might experience about undergoing having an operation, should you need one.   

The timeframe between your initial consultation and undergoing treatment depends on your individual circumstances and whether you have been diagnosed with a condition prior to your consultation. 
After your initial consultation, your Consultant and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals will ensure you understand the next steps in your journey and how to prepare for surgery, if needed. 

We explain the process for some key general surgeries at The Clementine Churchill Hospital below. These are just some of many treatment options we offer, so if you would like to find out more about our different options, please call our helpful advisory team on 0208 8723872 for more information. 

Gallbladder removal surgery

Also known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, this procedure is a keyhole operation to remove your gallbladder. This is usually recommended when gallstones have formed in your gallbladder, often causing intense pain and other unpleasant symptoms. Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in your gallbladder because of an imbalance in the chemical make-up of the bile inside your gallbladder. It is estimated that more than one in 10 adults in the UK has gallstones, although only a small number of people develop symptoms. If symptoms do occur, it is referred to as gallstone disease or cholelithiasis.  

During surgery, your Consultant General Surgeon will begin by making small incisions beside your belly button and on the right side of your tummy. They will then insert a small tube into one of these incisions and pump carbon dioxide gas into your tummy, inflating your abdomen to allow access to your gallbladder. Next, they will insert a laparoscope (a long, thin telescope with a light and camera attached to it) through the larger incision, allowing them to see inside your tummy on a monitor. They will then insert specialist surgical instruments through the other incisions to remove your gallbladder. The gas will be released from your tummy and the incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with dressings.  

Gallstone removal surgery is performed under general anaesthetic, meaning you will be asleep for the whole operation. 

Upper GI endoscopy and dilatation

Upper GI endoscopy or EGD is a procedure to treat a narrowed esophagus, which can result in difficulty swallowing, vomiting, pain, and discomfort. It involves gently stretching the wall of your esophagus by inserting and inflating a balloon inside to stretch it. 

During surgery, your Consultant will pass a tube with a light and camera attached to it, called a gastroscope, through your mouth and down to your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). They might pass air and water through this tube to have a clearer view. An upper GI endoscopy and dilation involves passing a balloon through the gastroscope and into your narrowed esophagus area. The balloon will be carefully inflated using water to stretch the narrowing of your esophagus.  

The surgery is performed under local anaesthetic. It typically takes 15 to 30 minutes to perform. 

Anal fistula surgery

An anal fistula is an abnormal connection between the lining on the inside of your anal canal (back passage) and the skin near your anus. Most anal fistulas are caused by an abscess (a collection of pus) which has developed in your anal canal. A fistula happens when the opening, made by the pus on the way to the surface of the skin, stays open. It usually requires surgery to heal. 

Surgery for an anal fistula is typically performed under a general anaesthetic, meaning you are not awake during the procedure. The most common type of surgery for anal fistulas is fistulotomy, but there are several kinds of surgery depending on how severe the fistula is. Speak with your Consultant about which kind of anal fistula surgery will work best for you. 

During a fistulotomy, your Consultant will make an incision at the site of fistula, scraping away the infected area and draining it of any fluid and pus. Your Consultant will close the wound with stitches after surgery. 

Haemorrhoidal artery ligation

The Haemorrhoidal Artery Ligation Operation (HALO) is a procedure to treat haemorrhoids, also known as piles, without the need for cutting them out or administrating general anaesthetic. 

Piles are swollen veins that appear as small, fleshy lumps in the wall of your rectum and anus. These can become bulged and irritated, especially when you go to the toilet. Piles bleed easily, usually causing fresh blood when you use the toilet. They can also be painful and itchy. The operation to eliminate piles relies on a specialist miniature ultrasound device to locate the blood vessels in your bowel that supply the haemorrhoids. During surgery, your Consultant will cut off blood supply to the haemorrhoids by ligating each of these blood vessels with sutures (tying them closed using a protective stitch). Over the following few days, your piles will shrink, and your symptoms will resolve.  

The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthetic and is an alternative to conventional haemorrhoidectomy surgery, which is a more invasive procedure that involves removing your haemorrhoids by cutting them away and can lead to more bleeding than the HALO.  

Recovery from general surgery looks different for everyone. It depends on factors, such as:  

  • Your general health 
  • Your fitness 
  • The reason for having general surgery 
  • The specific procedure(s) you have
  • Your lifestyle

It is important to discuss your recovery journey with your Consultant in detail. They will be able to provide an accurate recovery timeline based on your individual circumstances.  

Depending on the surgery you have had, you might require physiotherapy. This is likely if you need to rebuild your muscular strength and range of movement following surgery. If so, your Physiotherapist will work with you to build a tailored exercise and massage therapy regime suited to your needs. You will be able to perform these exercises during your sessions and at home to ensure you experience the quickest recovery possible. Find out more about our physiotherapy services here. 

We share the recovery timelines for some of our most common general surgery procedures below: 

Gallbladder removal surgery

It takes around two weeks to fully recover from laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery. Most people who have keyhole surgery can leave hospital on the same day as the operation, but you might be required to stay overnight depending on your individual circumstances. This may well be arranged before surgery.  

You will need to organise for a lift home from a family member or friend, because you will not be able to drive yourself. Or we can arrange for a taxi to collect you from our hospital, if needed. Someone should stay with you for at least 24 hours if you go home on the same day as your operation, as you may still be feeling the effects of the anaesthetic and so you’ll need support at home. Side effects of anaesthesia include sleepiness, vomiting and chills.  

You should be gentle with yourself for two weeks after surgery, only walking slowly and briskly for exercise. After two weeks, you can return to your normal everyday activities, unless your Consultant has specifically requested that you do not. You should also be able to return to work after two weeks if you have a desk job. If you have a manual job involving more strenuous activity, you may need to take some more time off to rest and recover. Please discuss this with your Consultant in more detail. 

Upper GI endoscopy and dilatation

The recovery period following this procedure is fast. You should be able to return to everyday life as normal after two days.  

After surgery, you will need to rest in hospital for up to two hours until the effects of the local anaesthetic or sedative have worn off. A friend or family member will need to drive you home after the procedure, as you will not be able to do this yourself. We can arrange for a taxi to collect you from the hospital, if needed. 

It is normal to experience a sore throat and bloated tummy for a couple of days after surgery. This will resolve over time, but be gentle with yourself as you rest and recover by drinking plenty of fluids, and take painkillers if you need to. Speak with your Consultant about your symptoms and the best way to manage them if they concern you. 

Avoid food and drink before the procedure

In preparation for surgery so that your Consultant can see your upper GI tract clearly, you will not be able to eat or drink for up to 8 hours before the procedure. You can take most medication as usual, but you may need to adjust or stop some medication for a brief time before your upper GI endoscopy.  

Anal fistula surgery

The nature of your recovery following this surgery depends on how simple or complex the nature of your anal fistula is. More complex fistulas, which are situated more deeply and cannot be treated using dissolvable stitching, are more difficult to treat. Surgery for these may even be planned in stages over the course of a few months. 

If your surgery is a simpler case, you will be encouraged to get up from bed and walk around within two hours after the procedure. You will be able to leave hospital on the same day as surgery or the following day. You should expect to be able to open your bowels within one to three days after surgery. This may be uncomfortable at first. It is also common to experience some bleeding and discharge when this happens, so do not be alarmed if it does. Provided you feel comfortable and are recovering well at home, you can return to normal work and life a week after surgery. Over the first few weeks you may notice some changes in your ability to control wind. This is normal and will resolve within a few weeks.  

Speak with your Consultant in more detail about what your recovery timeline will look like for you following anal fistula surgery. 

Haemorrhoidal artery ligation

The recovery time after having haemorrhoidal artery ligation is fast because the operation does not involve any incisions, and because stitching is placed in the lower rectum, where there are very few pain nerves. 

Most people will return home on  the same day as surgery, though some will stay in hospital for one night. If so, this will probably be arranged beforehand. A friend or family member will need to drive you home after the procedure, as you will not be able to do this yourself. We can arrange for a taxi to collect you from the hospital, if needed.  

Most people can return to work and everyday life 48 hours after surgery. You might experience minimal discomfort in the form of throbbing in your anus. This can be managed with painkillers. Speak with your Consultant about the nature of your recovery timeline and how it will look depending on your circumstances, including how to effectively manage any discomfort following surgery. 

The cost of gallbladder removal surgery is around £6,978* 

The cost of upper GI endoscopy and dilatation ranges from £1,650 to £1,864* 

The cost of anal fistula surgery is £3,927* 

The cost of haemorrhoidal artery ligation is £2,496* 

The cost of general surgery at The Clementine Churchill Hospital varies depending on the nature of the surgery. To discuss our list of general surgeries and pricing, phone a member of our friendly advisory team on 0208 8723872 to find out more.  
*This is a guide price for treatment when paying for yourself. Your initial consultation and diagnostics are not included in the price. Prices are confirmed in writing after your initial consultation with a Consultant Specialist. Aftercare may vary depending on your treatment. Further terms and conditions apply. 

Potential complications during a surgical procedure include: 

  • Infection in the surgical wound 
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Scarring 
  • Blood clotting 
  • Pain 
  • Difficulty passing urine 
  • Heart attack  
  • Stroke 

Speak with your Consultant about the risk factors associated with your specific operation. They will be able to answer any questions about the procedure and ease any concerns you might have.

Specialists offering General surgery

Mr Alla Amin

Consultant General and Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgeon


The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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