As a surgical resident, Angela Gucwa participated in a wide range of surgical procedures. Some of these procedures occurred over and over again, becoming the regular medical cast of characters that populated the operating room. For example, caesarean sections are one of the most common surgical procedures performed in any hospital, as are a variety of biopsies in which tissue samples are taken.
One common but complicated surgery that Angela Gucwa witnessed regularly as a surgical resident was coronary artery bypass surgery. In this type of surgery, explains Angela Gucwa, vein segments are transplanted to allow blood to flow around an artery that has become blocked due to built up plaques. These veins are typically taken out of the leg.
Another surgery that is unfortunately common according to Angela Gucwa is mastectomies, both partial and total. A mastectomy is the removal of breast tissue, typically performed to eradicate breast cancer. In some cases where there is significant family history, says Angela Gucwa, a prophylactic mastectomy may be performed in which breast tissue is removed to prevent the occurrence of cancer. Along with mastectomies also come reconstruction surgeries, notes Angela Gucwa. Reconstruction surgeries help women regain a sense of normalcy after what is often life-changing surgery.
Finally, among the list of common surgeries are the ones everyone knows as a kid: appendectomies and tonsillectomies. Angela Gucwa notes that appendectomies have decreased in frequencies with improved imaging techniques and testing, but tonsillectomies continue to be a common childhood surgery, says Angela Gucwa, often to prevent re-occurring strep infections.