SURGERY – AN ART AND A SCIENCE
Surgery is an art – but art based on science.
As an art, it calls for the judgment of the individual surgeon. His diagnosis, the timing and choice of his operative procedure, the treatment of his patient before and after the operation – these will vary from one case to another, and be determined by the surgeon’s judgment. That judgment will in turn be based on his individual experience, but also on scientific facts – facts about the individual patient, scientifically recorded and evaluated, together with the accumulated body of clinical knowledge about the particular disease and its treatment.
In the same way, the surgeon’s technical skill is an art firmly based on science. Manual dexterity is only part of the story: behind it lies a sure knowledge of anatomy and pathology, physiology and biochemistry. Above all, it must be backed by a mastery of surgical techniques – the practised performance of each surgical manoeuvre, the skillful handling of each surgical instrument.
The greater his mastery over his science, the more efficiently will the surgeon practice his art. Skill leads to speed allied to safety: practice leads to confidence allied to gentleness in the handling of living tissue. By its very nature, surgery involves injury to the patient: in his knowledge of the instruments he uses and the manoeuvres he carries out lies the surgeon’s power to reduce that injury to the minimum.