Surgery, branch of medicine concerned with treatment of diseases, deformities, and injuries through manual procedures called operations. Surgery can be used to repair broken bones, stop uncontrolled bleeding, remove injured or diseased tissue and organs, and reattach severed limbs. Exploratory surgery helps physicians diagnose conditions that cannot be detected by traditional tests. It allows for examination of internal organs for signs of disease.
People have practiced surgery since ancient times, but it did not become a respected science until the 19th century. Increasing knowledge of the human body, the discovery of anesthesia (a loss of physical sensation that can be induced with drugs), and the use of germ-free, or sterile, operating procedures combined to make surgery a safe and effective method of medical treatment. In the 20th century advances in technology have helped the field of surgery grow at a rapid pace.