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General Surgery

General surgery is a surgical specialty that focuses on abdominal concerns, including:

  • Esophagus (food tube)
  • Stomach
  • Small bowel
  • Colon
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder and bile ducts
  • Thyroid gland
  • Hernia repair

General surgeons often provide surgical care for diseases and conditions affecting the skin, breast and soft tissue. They also perform colonoscopies, endoscopic procedures used to screen and diagnose problems of the colon and rectum.

Common procedures

Breast Surgery

Surgical breast oncologist M. Katherine Hughes, M.D., specializes in the surgical treatment of breast cancer utilizing a number of advanced techniques including localized partial mastectomy, nipple-sparing techniques; oncoplastics; and hidden incisions. She earned her medical degree from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida; completed surgical residency at Loma Linda University Health in California; and completed fellowship training in surgical breast oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She is board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. Hughes office is located inside the Oncology Center of Excellence, 5th Floor, Medical Plaza A, 617 23rd St., Ashland, Ky.

To reach Dr. Hughes, please dial (606) 325-2221.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

This procedure helps remove the gallbladder by laparoscopic (or minimally invasive) techniques. Small incisions of up to half an inch are made and ports (small plastic tubes) are placed through these incisions. The camera and the instruments all go through the ports which allow the physician to operate. The camera serves as the surgeon's eyes during surgery. Recovery time is quick and most patients return home the same day.

Hernia repair

Hernia repair is the one of the most common procedures a general surgeon performs. There are several types of hernia: an inguinal hernia is when part of the intestine or bladder comes through the abdominal wall. Nearly all groin hernias are this type, and most often occur in men.

An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the small intestine gets past the abdominal wall near the navel. A hiatal hernia is when the upper stomach gets in the hiatus, a part of the diaphragm.

To repair these issues, a general surgeon uses a laparoscope to examine the area from the inside and make repairs, using mesh, as needed.

Nissen fundoplication

General surgeons perform this procedure to relieve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. During nissen fundoplication, a surgeon wraps the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus, reinforcing the lower esophageal sphincter. This makes it less likely that acid will back up in the esophagus.


General surgeons can remove cancerous parts of the skin, called melanomas. To properly diagnose the issue, a provider perform either a skin exam or a biopsy to help plan treatment. An examination of the lymph nodes or a CT scan prior to treatment is also a possibility.

Colon cancer - polyp removal

General surgeons often perform endoscopy procedures, including polyp removal during a colonoscopy. This procedure has a long flexible tube with a small video camera where the physician can see the colon and remove polyps at the same time, if needed.

Surgery to remove all or part of the colon is called a colectomy. The surgeon can remove the affected part of the colon, usually with small, normal areas on either side, as well.

Thyroid nodule removal

Surgery can remove all or part of the thyroid gland, or nodules that are distinct from the gland. The gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower third of the neck.

Pilonidal cyst removal

These cysts can develop directly above a patient's backside, and usually require draining the infection, then removal.


General surgeons can remove a diseased or damaged spleen during this procedure. The spleen is on the upper left part of the belly, and usually helps fight germs and infections, and helps filter blood.