Curriculum and Syllabus

The specialty of general surgery requires specialized knowledge and skills in managing congenital and acquired diseases and injuries in most organ systems, which are treated by surgical methods.The surgeon must have acquired and must maintain specialized knowledge relating to the diagnosis, preoperative, operative and postoperative management in the following areas of primary responsibility:

  • Abdominal wall and abdominal organs,
  • Alimentary tract,
  • Thoracic wall and organs,
  • Head and neck, including vascular, endocrine, congenital and oncological disorders, particularly tumors of the skin, salivary glands, thyroid, parathyroid and oral cavity.
  • Surgical oncology, including coordinated multidisciplinary management of the cancer patient,
  • Endocrine system,
  • Breast, skin and soft tissue,
  • Vascular system, excluding the intracranial vessels, the heart and those vessels intrinsic and immediately adjacent thereto,
  • Urogenital tract,
  • Comprehensive management of all forms of trauma, including musculoskeletal traumata. Responsibility for the coordination of all phases of treatment is one of the main components of surgery,
  • Care of critically ill patients with underlying conditions including coordinated multidisciplinary management,
  • Rigid and flexible endoscopy of alimentary tract, diagnostic and therapeutic,
  • Methods for gastrointestinal function diagnosis, especially manometry and pHmetry
  • Diagnostic and interventional radiology and sonography.


The specialty covers acute and nonacute diseases and injuries and acute and elective procedures in patients of all ages.

The focus is on diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis and treatment comprises all noninstrumental and instrumental techniques including flexible endoscopy, radiology, sonography, computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. The surgeon must be capable of employing endoscopic techniques both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and must have the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience of evolving technological methods.

Surgical activity covers the pre-, peri- and postoperative period and follow-up of patients, especially in surgical oncology. The specialty also includes individual and general preventive activities.

The specialty particularly focuses on managing diseases a nd injuries of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum and pelvic floor, abdominal wall, biliary tract, liver, spleen and pancreas, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, adrenal glands, mammary glands, vessels, skin and subcutis.

Also included are the most common problems and interventions listed under the goals for orthopedics, gynecology and obstetrics, urology, plastic surgery, hand surgery, child and adolescent surgery, maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery, traumatology, vascular, thoracic cardiac and transplant surgery.

The knowledge and skills required by general surgery relate closely to other related specialities and general surgeons collaborate with these and most other specialities. Additionally, General Surgeons are expected to have a knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry which enable them to understand the effects of common surgical disease and injuries upon the normal structure and function of the various systems of the body. They are expected to have a knowledge of cell biology whichenable them to understand normal and disordered function of tissues and organs.

They should have an understanding of the pathogenesis of the common correctable congenital abnormalities. They are expected to know the actions and toxic effects of drugs commonly used in perioperative and intraoperative care and in the management of critically ill surgical patients. They must also have an understanding of general pathology including the principles of immunology and microbiology in relation to surgical practice.

The surgeon must be trained in the economics of health care, in the assessment of research methods and scientific publications and be given the option of research in a clinical and relevant field of further training in another related specialty.

Syllabus in General Surgery
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Wolfgang Feil
President of the European Board of Surgery
Honorary & Foundation President of the Division of General Surgery