So, yesterday, we had the distinct privilege of watching one of India’s finest acetabular surgeons at work. We ended up walking into his OR and introducing ourselves to find one of the most humble, down to earth surgeons who ended up teaching us the entire time he was operating. It was fascinating. A complicated surgery that usually takes 6 hours to do ended up taking him just an hour- and at the same time he taught us about the anatomy of the pelvis, the way one repairs a break in the region and how to maintain the integrity of the joint.
After the surgery, we end up being able to step into a Whipple (catchily called a pancreaticoduodenectomy) – one of the most complicated general surgeries (made famous by Grey’s Anatomy.) It involves removal of a pancreatic tumor, typically from the head of the pancreas. Complicated beyond belief, it involves clipping the blood supply of the tumor, ligating each artery and finally separating and removing the tumor. Often the tumor takes the duodenum (the first part of your small intestine) with it. Then, you get to redo the plumbing. Namely, you get to reattach the stomach to the jejunum (the second part of the small intestine), as well as connect the bile duct and the pancreatic ducts to the jejunum. A bloody, messy and long surgery, it takes easily six hours.
It’s fascinating what all one can get to see as a medical student, the doors that open up and the view of medicine one begins to get. As second years, we’re seeing complicated surgeries and being taught by world class surgeons- simply because we’re part of the club. In the span of eight hours, we saw two rare and fascinating surgeries- which if you follow Grey’s you know most surgery residents fight to get to see.