Why is surgery an operation?

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Why is surgery an operation?

When asking this question, it brings to mind a scenario in a sitcom. For example, in The Nanny, Fran could be devastated when she learns that Mr Sheffield has to go for surgery. “Oh, an operation,” she might exclaim, explaining to herself that her boss will be going under the knife.

In modern language, surgery and operation are used interchangeable but not in equal measure.

What I mean is that surgery will usually mean operation or the facility in which to perform an operation; operation will not always mean surgery.

Surgery is the specialty of medicine that treats diseases and disorders by cutting, removing or changing the body with an operative procedure that opens the body for therapy, as defined by www.verywell.com.

This definition, while helpful, may not be reliable as the advances in technology such as laser therapy have made significant physical changes possible without any incision being necessary.

I digress. Surgery to all intents and purposes means operation or to operate, but operate has so much more versatility. Dictionary.com provides no less than 12 definitions for the word, while other sites narrow it down to just seven.

Let’s look at some of them.

verb (used without object), operated, operating.

  1. to work, perform, or function, as a machine does:

This engine does not operate properly.

  1. to work or use a machine, apparatus, or the like.
  2. to act effectively; produce an effect; exert force or influence (often followed by on or upon):

Their propaganda is beginning to operate on the minds of the people.

  1. to perform some process of work or treatment.
  2. Surgery. to perform a surgical procedure.
  3. (of a drug) to produce the effect intended.
  4. Military. to carry on operations in war;to give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.

More and more operate appears to be a word used in the business sense. I studied operations management at university and it certainly had nothing to do with physicians or hospitals.

So, while operate may win this round for its multiple uses, surgery takes the award for the range of specialist procedures under its generic umbrella. If you can think of a body part, there’s a surgery to enhance or remove it.

These are just a few:

Dermatoplasty: any form of plastic surgery of the skin, as skin grafts

Mammoplasty: better know as breast augmentation is the procedure to enlarge breasts

Rhinoplasty: a surgical procedure done on the nose for medical and aesthetic purposes

Vasectomy: surgical excision of part of the vas deferens, the duct which carries sperm from the testes, performed as a form of male contraception.

Zooplasty: the process of surgically grafting tissue from a lower animal onto the human body

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