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Not to be confused with sturgeon.

In medicine, a surgeon is a specialist in surgery. Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a body, either that of a human or another animal, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissue or to repair a tear or breakage. Surgeons may be physicians, podiatrists, dentists, or veterinarians.

Surgeons usually train for longer than other medical specialists.


In history, surgery was mostly associated with barber-surgeons who also used their hair-cutting tools to undertake surgical procedures, often at the battlefield and also for their royal paymasters. With advances in medicine and physiology, the professions of barbers and surgeons diverged; by the 19th century barber-surgeons had virtually disappeared, and surgeons were almost invariably qualified doctors who had specialised in surgery. Surgeon continued, however, to be used as the title for military medical officers until the end of the 19th century, and the title of Surgeon General continues to exist for both senior military medical officers and senior government public health officers.

Titles in the Commonwealth[edit]

In 1950, the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) in London began to offer surgeons a formal status via RCS membership. The title Mister became a badge of honour, and today, in many Commonwealth countries, a qualified doctor who, after at least four years' training, obtains a surgical qualification (formerly Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, but now also Member of the Royal College of Surgeons or a number of other diplomas) is given the honour of being allowed to revert to calling themselves Mr, Miss, Mrs or Ms in the course of their professional practice, but this time the meaning is different. It is sometimes assumed that the change of title implies consultant status (and some mistakenly think non-surgical consultants are Mr too), but the length of postgraduate medical training outside North America is such that a qualified surgeon may be years away from obtaining such a post: many doctors used to obtain these qualifications in the senior house officer grade, and remain in that grade when they began sub-specialty training. The distinction of Mr (etc.) is also used by surgeons in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, Barbados, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and some other Commonwealth countries.[1]

Military titles[edit]

In many English-speaking countries the military title of surgeon is applied to any medical practitioner, due to the historical evolution of the term.


Some physicians who are general practitioners or specialists in family medicine or emergency medicine may perform limited ranges of minor, common, or emergency surgery. Anesthesia often accompanies surgery, and anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists may oversee this aspect of surgery. Surgeon's assistant, surgical nurses, surgical technologists and operating department practitioners are trained professionals who support surgeons.

Pioneer surgeons[edit]

Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov - a pioneer of field surgery
Victor Horsley pioneered neurosurgery
For more details on this topic, see List of surgeons.

Organizations and fellowships[edit]


  1. ^ "Patients: The Surgical Team: Qualifications of a surgeon". Royal College of Surgeons of England. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Ira D. Papel, John Frodel, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  3. ^ A. Martin-Araguz, C. Bustamante-Martinez, Ajo V. Fernandez-Armayor, J. M. Moreno-Martinez (2002)
  4. ^ US Patent 4,840,175, "METHOD FOR MODIFYING CORNEAL CURVATURE", granted June 20, 1989