Today we were at a different practice and completing minor surgical procedures. There was my Dr, myself and a qualified Nurse present for this.
We saw a total of 5 patients; 4 of which we completed procedures on.
A male presents with a cyst on his back. Took him through and lying on the bed. The cyst was marked to show the margins and incision line (this was checked as the patient was standing – the cyst is pushed by two fingers either from the left and right or up and down to see which shows the most elasticity. The elasticity allows for suturing and minimises the risk of sutures bursting or the wound reopening and not healing.) Local anaesthetic was dawn and injected into the site, around the margins. The amount of anaesthetic used was as minimal as 0.5mls.
The site was checked to make sure there was no sensation and that the anaesthetic had kicked in. The initial incision was made with a round-bladed scalpel. This cyst was very superficial and could be seen very quickly from the first incision. With a bit of patience and retraction the skin was cleaned from the surface of the cyst. Forceps were used to help ensure the cyst was fully unattached before removal. This cyst was attached quite well and on removal, the base still remained attached. After a careful extraction of the base of the cyst, the sample was bottled and the would sutured with 4 sutures and dressed.
Patient 2 was a male who had a mole on his back that he wanted removed. Again, it was inspected and found to be benign. We took him though and injected the local anaesthetic. Moles don’t need to be marked up as they have clear margins due to their colour and the procedure. Once anaesthetic has kicked in, the mole was literally scrapped away from the skin. Moles often will do this although it is not recommended that patients do this themselves! Once removed the sample is bottled and the wound is burned to prevent bleeding. (People mention the smell of burning skin and it doesn’t/ didn’t bother me but I can imagine some would be put off by this! It reminds me of when a big fly/ wasp gets zapped by the big killers!😂) The site was then dressed.
Patient consulted for a mole. Mole was very ‘squidgy’, no colour changes or other features of malignancy. The patient was happy and so it was decided not to remove it.
A lady came in with a skin tag on her neck. She was having problems with it getting caught on clothing or when she brushed her long hair. We agreed to remove it although had informed her that if she could manage with it, removal wasn’t necessary. Due to the location she was adamant that she would like to part with it.
We took her through and injected anaesthetic. The tag was removed using a flat ended scalpel, the area was then burned to prevent bleeding and dressed.
This gentleman had been to have a cyst removed previously. Unfortunately, he hadn’t eaten breakfast, had been up all night with his young child and generally felt unwell. He told me how he had seen the instruments being prepped, eyed the scalpel and felt very unwell. He did the right thing and informed the GP and nurse who both discontinued the procedure. He assures us that he was well rested, had eaten and was feeling very well.
He was a very nervous patient and was oversharing and very chatty as a way of coping with his nerves. We took him through and marked out his cyst which was on his scalp. Again, injected local and once anaesthetised, the initial cut was made. This cyst had been present for a while and proved to be a bit trickier to separate from the superficial layer. It also presented as being deeper than the first. It took time and patience to get it to the position of removing it, although once there, it was removed easily and came out all intact.
With the position of the cyst being on his scalp, the sutures don’t follow the same rule as the previous and stitches were thrown from front to back of the scalp. My GP took the time to explain that throwing a vertical mattress stitch in the middle of the incision meant that the edges of the wound would close together, evenly. This would prevent the edges of the wound overlapping, healing unevenly and taking longer to heal. Two more stitches were thrown either side to close the incision nicely.
We spent the afternoon in surgery, again, a variety of patients and ailments. We managed to see 7 patients in our short session.
First patient was a gentleman who had a ?UTI. He had booked the appointment however, had previously seen a nurse practitioner who had prescribed some medication and things seemed to have settled. He described himself as being well. He had brought a urine sample and it was dip tested. The strip lit up like a Christmas tree! He had proteins present, blood present, the whole works. Despite his reluctance due to feeling back to normal, he was strongly advised to finish his medication and to hand in another urine sample after the course of treatment to rule out any other possibility.
A women with knee pain and had a history of neoplasia. She was advised to have bloods taken as a precaution before further treatment/ investigation.
An 11 month old presenting with chronic pain up to 20 minutes after feeding, up to 3 times a day. The baby would go rigid and arch his back whilst screaming out in pain. Mum had brought baby in and seen a Dr who had prescribed lactulose for constipation and mum had not been convinced so requested a second opinion. Baby’s chest, ears and throat were examined. His temperature was within normal limits. He was examined, abdomen was soft and non-tender. He was stripped completely and check for any signs of construction or lack of circulation. He was extremely happy and smiley all the way through. No signs of any other cause of pain and it was explained that we weren’t siding with a colleagues opinion and that we would always welcome any patient or parent to do the same, however on this occasion we would recommend taking the lactulose, even splitting feeding up with cooled boiled water to help as breastfeeding. Any more problems and come back to the surgery.
A gentleman who’s forehead was quite scaly and red. He was given some moisturising cream and steroid cream to treat. He also had some moles he wanted checked. Happy to report all were benign and posed no problems so are happy to be left alone.
Another young child with a viral infection. Temp was high, breathing a little laboured, ears red. Prescribed a course of antibiotics and again, if not seeing improvements, to return to surgery.
A man had a cyst on his neck. He previously had one on his face, was booked to see Dermatology at the hospital however, before the appointment it resolved itself. We both inspected the cyst and were happy it was benign however, due to its location, it would be removed by Dermatology. Referral completed.
An interesting one! A gentleman came in after having a punch biopsy performed for malignancy. The area where the biopsy was completed wouldn’t heal. It was inspected and pathology results consulted. He was referred back to his hospital consultant. It appears that the clinic letter stated that the punch biopsy was completed and malignancy was removed successfully. However, the pathology results showed that there was only the punch biopsy completed. The malignancy was never removed, hence why the wound would not heal.
What I learned:
- Always eat breakfast before minor surgery.
- How to throw a vertical mattress suture.
- That cysts can smell.. badly.
- Patients won’t tell you when they’re nervous.
- A qualified nurse isn’t always required in minor surgery but it’s really refreshing to have a fellow healthcare professional assisting.
- Parents feel extremely guilty when they are ill and then their child becomes ill. It can be emotional.
- Consultants and GP’s can often get things wrong/ make mistakes, we are human. It’s important to check your work (or that of your secretaries).
- A second opinion is never a bad thing or a question of someone’s ability to diagnose.
- The importance of taking a full dose of antibiotics/ medication. You may feel better or normal but infection can still remain.
I thoroughly enjoyed the minor surgery experience. I’m not squeamish and it was great to see that a GP still has the opportunities to use some finesse and surgical skills should they want to. I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with a qualified nurse. Claire was lovely! We discussed the importance of asthma checkups (she runs an afternoon asthma clinic) and how asthma isn’t always a 100% foolproof diagnosis. It’s all a learning curve.