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The Lure of Surgery Can Be Fleeting

Ali Tabatabaey -- Wow! What an experience. If you feel that you’re unwillingly being seduced into mastering the art of “the Blade” instead of the science of medicine, there is nothing like a back breaking seven-hour session at the operating room to change your mind back!

Pict0082_2During this surgical marathon an extern fainted and the other intern preferred to take a seat, while the aid nurse handed her responsibility over to me during the second part of the operation. It was supposed to be a simple tumor resection but after taking a look at what was inside, it ultimately turned out to be a single-team APR.

The patient was an Iraqi resident who had undergone total colectomy a few years ago, but the rectum had undergone malignant changes and he now had a huge abdominal mass. This father of four was in his early forties and had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 20 years ago. Since all the worthwhile doctors have left Iraq due to the security situation, he chose to come all the way here to undergo the resection.

The mass had invaded much of the adjacent tissue and there were a lot of adhesions left over from the first operation. So the first few hours were spent trying to reveal the original anatomy of the abdomen and then getting rid of the invasive mass.

Just before the operation there was a ruthless race between the interns to determine who, if anyone, could scrub in. I never knew I could stand for this long. In the last hour I thought I was about to join the casualties too, but I managed to fallow through. It was a great experience, yet not one I would fight for the next time around. As the wise surgeon reminded me during the operation:

“People fall in love with surgery all the time, but turning it into a lasting relationship is not something all can do!”

September 16, 2007 | Permalink


Don't be tired,doctor.i'm surprised that in your hospital the interns was allowed to do an operation.i envy to you.in our hosoital it's special to the second-year resident and the higher year residents.the interns and first year residents just could show the operation.anyway i think the surgery is a rough rotation.we(i and my friens) call the surgical residents as (ghassaban) and the 3th and 4th year residents as chief of the (ghassaban).be success in your favorite rotation.

Posted by: sara omidi | Sep 17, 2007 4:14:30 AM

I am absolutly with your wise surgeon and really i face it when i was doing my rotation in the neurosurgery i was fighting and sooo eciting to scrun in and being a member of the the team even just to touch the spinal cord with they ordered me to do for orientation as they were say or to do the lovely burr hole in the skull and all of that happiness was temporarly because after 2 hrs i have to take a seat for an operation for 8 hrs the rule in neurosurgey operation room( to enter the bathroom is not like the exit)...so have fun

Posted by: Rumaiza | Sep 19, 2007 8:54:09 PM

I second Sara. Interns can't perform surgery here either. Externs are hardly allowed in lol!

Mashhad Azad students go to Farabi hospital right?

Posted by: fh | Sep 23, 2007 7:46:40 AM

I hear you. I had an almost exact experience during my surgery rotation. I unwittingly scrubbed into what turned out to be an 8hr colostomy reversal. I made it all the way through without passing out but that certainly soured my romance with general surgery really quickly.

Posted by: Melissa | Sep 23, 2007 5:43:56 PM

What about the 20hour operations. Its not just reconstructing tissue and making a few cuts here and there it would seem. I guess you portrayed a nice reality check for those wishing to become surgeons. 5 Years specialising and if you don't pass then you can't practice. Wouldn't that be harsh. Sounds like pure hell. I wonder how much endogenous cortisol is running through the blood stream of all surgeons. How do they live past 40?

Posted by: Oberserver | Sep 27, 2007 8:56:53 AM

You are my hero!

Posted by: Linda Dixon | Sep 27, 2007 6:41:36 PM

I think it's interesting how people's perceptions of a whole field are colored by one long surgery as a medical student. I'm a surgery resident thinking about either trauma or breast surgery--neither of which have particularly long cases usually. Also, I think it's kind of funny that surgeons in general are perceived as impatient. You have to have patience in spades to tediously dissect out a tumor like the one Ali describes! I think more of the crabbiness assigned to surgeons might be due to the decreased sleeping/eating hours--and OB/Gyns have it even worse!

Posted by: | Oct 30, 2007 9:01:54 AM

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