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Trauma surgery refers to the surgical specialty that treats injuries caused by impact. A trauma surgeon might be called to an emergency room to assess a patient who has been injured in a car accident. In this article, Cincinnati trauma surgeon Jay Johannigman explains how trauma surgeons treat patients.

Trauma Explained

Trauma refers to injuries sustained when someone is subject to blunt force trauma or penetrating trauma. Trauma may also be called “major trauma.” Jay Johannigman stated that trauma patients often become victims of gunshot wounds, car accidents, stabbings, or car crashes. Trauma can also result from falls, crush injuries, or pedestrians being hit by a vehicle.

Traumatic injuries can cause damage to the internal organs, bones, brain, and other soft tissues. Trauma can affect any part of the body.

Jay Johannigman Cincinnati

Who Performs Trauma Surgery

Jay Johannigman explains that for severe trauma such as a car accident, the trauma surgeon might be part of a team that includes general and vascular surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and other surgeons, as necessary.

Not only will the trauma team include one or more surgeons but also nurses, anesthetists, respiratory therapists, radiologists, and support staff from the medical laboratory scientists (including the blood bank).

To practice as a surgeon, a lot of education is required. They start out in college with a bachelor’s and then go on to medical school for four more years. Five years of residency in general surgery is required. Surgeons who wish to specialize in a particular area must complete a five-year residency. Then, they will need to continue their training. Trauma surgery fellowships last between one and two years. A critical care fellowship is often offered to trauma surgeons. They are eligible to take their boards in order to become certified in Surgical Critical care.

To put the education requirements into perspective, Jay Johannigman began his career shortly after receiving his MD from Case Western Reserve University. Already commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant for the USAF Reserves, Dr. Jay Johannigman returned to active duty as a staff surgeon and medical director of the Surgical Critical Care Service at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center after finishing his postdoctoral training.

Upon completion of his active duty service duty obligation, Dr. Johannigman served as the Director of the Institute of Military Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He was also Director of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care, and Acute Care Surgery at University Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 2001 to 2017.  During the ensuing years, he would continue an active presence in both military and civilian medicine. Dr. Johannigman was a founding leader in the establishment of the Cincinnati Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (Cincinnati CSTARS). Established in 2001 and continuing to this date, Cincinnati CSTARS was one of the first five Military-Civilian Strategic Partnerships in the United States.

From the Emergency Room to Surgery

A trauma surgeon is a specialist in the field of emergency medicine. The ER doctor will examine you and order imaging studies if you present with any type of complaint. The ER doctor will notify any specialists required, including the trauma surgeon. The ER doctor’s role is to refer you for admission or discharge you with the appropriate treatment and follow-up referrals.

If you require trauma surgery, your case will be referred to the trauma surgeon who will then become your provider. Not only will she perform the surgery, but she will also follow you through rehabilitation, recovery, and discharge. You may be treated at your home if you require emergency surgery. Or you might be transferred to another facility with the right specialists for your condition. The trauma surgeon might not be able to see you until you get there.

A trauma surgeon is usually responsible for prioritizing which injuries should be treated first and determining the best order for the diagnostic and operative procedures. To learn more about Dr. Jay Johannigman, Cincinnati trauma surgeon, visit his website.