Surgery Department

Departmental History

The Department of Surgery is one of the Clinical Departments of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. It was created with the aims of

  1. Equipping the medical graduates of the University of Port Harcourt with the surgical knowledge and skills they need to take on the challenges of contemporary medical practice here in Nigeria and abroad
  2. Training surgical specialists through its residency and other associated programs.
  3. Providing high-level surgical services for the teeming population in the sub-region, the rest of Nigeria and even for neighboring countries and for the world at large
  4. Research with the aim of contributing to knowledge of surgical conditions especially those prevalent in our environment.

At inception, the Department had an initial staff strength that included only four consultant surgeons. Due to their quest for excellence and a desire to lay a good foundation for the infant department, they took on their academic and clinical responsibilities with extraordinary zeal. A lot of the academic activities being performed in the Department today derive significantly from the ones laid down by the pioneers.


The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) was established in 1980, with the Department of Surgery as one of its major departments. The hospital commenced activities at the General Hospital, Emuoha, near the University of Port Harcourt. The young institution grew rapidly and within a few years had to be relocated to the premises of the former General Hospital in Port Harcourt; from where it finally moved to its permanent site at Alakahia, near the University at Choba in September 2006.

Units in Department Of Surgery

There are nine units in the Department of Surgery according to areas of subspecialization. They are:

  • Burns, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery  
  • Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery            
  • Paediatric Surgery                               
  • Orthopaedics – Trauma                           
  • General Surgery (Breast & Oncology)       
  • General Surgery (Hepatobiliary)                   
  • General Surgery (Gastroenterology & Minimal Access)
  • Urology                                               
  • Neurosurgery                               

Staff Strength & Accreditation

The Department has made considerable progress in recruiting well-qualified and experienced staff over the years. The department is fully accredited by both the National Post Graduate College and the West African College of Surgeons for the training of medical doctors and surgical specialists.

At present, the department is endowed with at least two or more specialists in most of the major subspecialties of surgery. These
specialists are grouped into nine units according to their areas of subspecialization. They are:

  • Burns, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (3 specialists)
  • Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery (3 specialists)
  • Paediatric Surgery (3 specialists)
  • Orthopaedics – Trauma (7 specialists)
  • General Surgery – Breast and Oncology (3 specialists)
  • General Surgery – Hepatobiliary (2 specialists)
  • General Surgery – Gastroenterology & Minimal Access (3 specialists)
  • Urology (4 specialists)
  • Neurosurgery (2 specialists)

Summing up, the Department of Surgery UPTH presently has 26 Consultant Surgeons, 54 Resident Doctors, 61 Nursing staff, and 4 Administrative staff.

Average Monthly Statistics Of Patients’ Attendance

Male Surgical Ward

Bed Capacity                                   37

Average Monthly Admissions          45 patients

Average Monthly Referrals              2 to 3 patients

Female Surgical Ward

Bed Capacity                                  28

Average Monthly Admissions          45 to 50 patients

Average Monthly Referrals              2 to 3 patients

Children Surgical Ward

Bed Capacity                                   35

Average Monthly Admissions          18 patients

Average Monthly Referrals               3 patients

Surgery Outpatients’ Clinic*

Average Monthly Outpatients’ Attendance (including General Surgery; Burns, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Urology; Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery; Paediatric Surgery and Neurological Surgery)

  • New Patients     230 per month average
  • Follow-up patients     550 per month average

*Please note that the Orthopaedic Clinic Outpatients attendance is not included in this average.

Departmental Facilities

Outpatient / Specialist Clinic           

The clinic is situated on the floor above the Family Medicine Department / General Outpatients’ clinic. At least 2 units run outpatients clinic every weekday except Friday which is totally devoted to academic activities


There are 3 Surgical Wards. The Male and Female Surgical Wards are located on the second floor of Block A of the Hospital (with the Male Surgical Ward in the East wing while the Female Surgical Ward occupies the West Wing). The Children Surgical Ward is in the East wing of the 4 floors of Block B of the Hospital.

Ancillary Facilities

Library: The Departmental library is located between the male and female surgical wards; and contains textbooks and journals relevant to the various subspecialties of Surgery.

Procedure Rooms: All three surgical wards and the Surgery outpatients’ clinic have procedure rooms where minor procedures like wound dressing, suture removal, incision and drainage, biopsies, etc are performed.

Side laboratory: The Department has a small side laboratory attached to it. Here simple tests that are urgently needed for inpatients (eg. Packed Cell Volume) are done quickly.

Theatre Services

The Theatre offers expert surgical care to patients booked by all surgical units within the hospital. The theatre gives all-inclusive, uninterrupted and coordinated 24 hours surgical care to patients irrespective of age, sex, and religion. The consultant surgeons, Resident doctors, Perioperative nurses, Anaesthetists, Anaesthetist technicians, Porters, Cleaners and all other theatre staff work as a team to ensure the smooth running of the Theatre and to achieve patient-centered care.

Patients’ Flow

The first contact of most patients with the Department of Surgery is at the Outpatients Clinic. New patients seen in this clinic are either on referral from other Departments within the hospital, or those referred from other institutions (both public and private) mostly within Rivers or its neighboring states and sometimes from distant parts of the country.

Other patients are seen in the SOPC (Surgery Outpatients Clinic) are old patients on follow up.

Patients that require surgery are usually admitted into one of the three surgical wards. However many of those with relatively minor lesions that do not require general anaesthesia for intervention are done as day cases in the Accident and Emergency theatre.

Consults and referral from our Department to other departments within the hospital are encouraged especially in cases of patients with disorders that need intervention by other disciplines.

Referrals to other hospital are also done for patients with disorders which cannot be comfortably managed in our centre.

Future Prospects

Our major vision is the fulfillment of the main goals for which the Surgery Department was created, and ensuring the development of the department to meet standards obtainable anywhere in the world.

For more details on the scope of work see UPTH Service Charter.
For Protocol of service; see UPTH Service Charter.