3 Most Dangerous Emergency Surgeries


No surgery is without risk, but some are more dangerous than others.

Of all the surgeries that happen each day, just seven types of surgery account for 80% of deaths and 79% of complications relating to emergency procedures:

  • Partial colectomy – large intestine or colon removal
  • Small bowel resection – removal of all or some part of a small bowel
  • Cholecystectomy – gallbladder removal
  • Peptic ulcer surgery – to repair ulcers in the stomach or first part of the small intestine
  • Removal of peritoneal adhesions – abdominal scar tissue
  • Appendectomy – removal of the appendix
  • Laparotomy – opening the abdomen

Some, such as appendectomies, have a relatively low mortality rate but occur more frequently. Others, such as laparotomy, happen less often but have a significantly higher mortality rate due to the complexity and risks involved.

Partial Colectomy

partial colectomy is the open or partial excision (removal) of part of the large intestine (typically the colon).

This happens when a blockage or perforation in the colon needs to be removed, usually because of colon cancer.

Complications from this surgery are relatively common, especially infection due to the large incision and the presence of fecal matter at the site of the bowel surgery.

Small Bowel Resection

Excision of a part of the small intestine also has a very high rate of complications, primarily due to infection.

This surgery is performed when diseased tissue and blockage in the small intestine need to be removed.

It is slightly less common than a partial colectomy but has a higher mortality and complication rate.

Gallbladder Removal

Gallbladder removal, also called a cholecystectomy, has significantly lower mortality and complication rate than bowel surgery but is also six times more common. It’s one of the most common types of surgery performed in the US.

The gallbladder is a small sac under the liver that stores bile, which aids in fat digestion. The gallbladder can develop stones that need to be removed surgically in some people.

While gallbladder surgery is relatively common and generally safe, there are still some potential risks. Complications include

  • bile leakage
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • injury to nearby tissues

And with any general surgery, there is always a small risk that the patient may experience a bad reaction to the anesthesia or other medications used during the surgery.

The Risks Are Small And Usually Necessary

While all of these risks may sound scary, it’s important to remember that they are relatively rare.

And in most cases, the benefits of the surgery far outweigh the risks. Typically, when a person needs one of these surgeries, they are experiencing a life-threatening condition that needs to be addressed immediately.

So while there are risks associated with these surgeries, they are usually necessary to save a person’s life.

If you are worried about an upcoming surgery for yourself or a loved one, talk to your healthcare team. They can help you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure and what you can do to minimize the risks.

And remember, while no surgery is without risk, most surgeries are successful and complication-free.