Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYN) are physicians who possess special knowledge, skills and professional capability in the medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and associated disorders, such that it distinguishes them from other physicians and enables them to serve as consultants to other physicians and as primary physicians for women. Over the years of practice, each obstetrician-gynecologist builds upon this broad base of knowledge and skills and may develop a unique type of practice and changing professional focus. Such diversity contributes to high-quality health care for women.
Resident education in obstetrics-gynecology must include four years of accredited, clinically-oriented graduate medical education, which must be focused on reproductive health care and ambulatory primary health care for women, including health maintenance, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, consultation, and referral. OB/GYNs typically evaluate infertility, abnormal uterine bleeding, leiomyomata, pelvic masses, pelvic organ prolapse, abnormal Pap smears, pelvic pain, endometriosis, breast disorders, and urinary incontinence.
There are also subspecialties in obstetrics and gynecology, which require additional training: maternal-fetal medicine specialists are obstetricians/gynecologists who are prepared to care for, and to consult on, patients with high-risk pregnancies; and reproductive endocrinologists are capable of managing complex problems related to reproductive endocrinology and infertility, including aspects of assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Examples of minor office procedures are colposcopy, endometrial biopsy, Pap smears, and vulvar biopsy. Office ultrasound is performed for both obstetrics and for gynecologic conditions. Some generalists provide considerable primary care in addition to the typical gynecologic procedures. Examples of outpatient procedures include laser surgery, diagnostic laparoscopy, operative laparoscopy such as laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy, tubal ligation, diagnostic and operative hysteroscopy, and endometrial ablation. Inpatient surgical procedures include hysterectomies performed vaginally, abdominally, and laparoscopically. Other examples of inpatient procedures include abdominal or laparoscopic myomectomies. Obstetrical procedures include cervical cerclage, dilation and curettage, amniocentesis, Cesarean section, circumcision, and forceps and vacuum deliveries.
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