There has always been a great deal of confusion among
the lay public as to just what general surgery is. The mistaken impression is that a general surgeon is the surgical equivalent
of a medical general practitioner. Medical general practitioners have 1 year of training after medical school, while
gereral surgeons train for 5 to 7 years. The specialty has evolved over the years. Originally all surgeons were
general surgeons, but speciaties in surgical fields began to train separately, usually after a few years of general surgical residency.
The specialty surgical procedures that were not split off became the domain of the general surgeon. These areas included evaluation
and treatment of abdominal pain , breast surgery, surgery on the GI tract ( gallbladder, biliary tract, stomach, small
bowel, colon and rectum), hernias, trauma care, endocrine surgery (thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas and parotid
gland) and a variety of minor procedures including skin and subcutaneous tissue surgery.
In the 1980's the introduction of laparoscopy revolutionized general surgery. The developement of small camera
and digital technology enabled intra abdominal procedures to be done through very tiny incisions. This allowed many general
surgical procedures to be done with minimal discomfort on an outpatient basis. Dr. Hanowell was among the very first
surgeons in the Washington area to train in laparoscopic surgery and incorporate it into his practice. He is privledged in
advanced laparoscopy and has developed several techniques, especially in the treatment of inguinal hernias, where he has found
a way to repair these hernias through quarter inch incisions. He has performed laparoscopic colon resections, small
bowel resections, hiatal hernia repairs, gastric(stomach) resections, splenectomies and adrenal resections.