The contemporary operating room




Natalie is seen in the Operating Theatre at Waratah Private Hospital NSW preparing for a knee replacement surgery. She is selecting implants of an appropriate size and counting the instruments to be used during the surgery. At the top can be seen a movable satellite light and screens which project views of the operation. X-rays can be seen on the wall at right while left is the scope viewer, camera and electrocautery machine. The anaesthetic trolley and machine can be seen behind Natalie. Also visible on the trolley are the single use drapes and other consumables.

A contemporary operating room is usually spacious with surfaces that are easy to clean. The room is typically windowless and well lit, with strong overhead lights able to be angled above the operating table. A backup electricity supply is available, and the environment has air filters with controlled temperature and humidity. Outside or adjacent to the operating room is a dedicated ‘scrub’ area that is used by surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and all who have a role during surgery.

Inside an operating theatre one may expect to find:
  • An operating table in the center of the room – able to be raised, lowered,
    and tilted in any direction
  • An anaesthetic machine at the top of the operating table. It has flexible tubes that connect to the patient to assist their breathing and to provide the anaesthetic during surgery. Monitors show the mixture of gases that the patient is receiving
  • A pulse oximeter machine attaches to the patient’s finger and measures the amount of oxygen contained in the blood
  • An electronic monitor which records the heart rate and respiratory rate - using adhesive patches that are placed on the patient’s chest
  • An automated blood pressure measuring machine
  • An anaesthetic trolley that has medications and equipment that the anaesthetist may need during surgery
  • An electrocautery machine which enables the surgeon to cauterise or seal off blood vessels - it may also be used to cut through tissue with a minimal amount of bleeding
  • Trolleys for sterile instruments, surgical supplies and disposable equipment - including glues and surgical tapes which enable surgeons to close some wounds effectively without stitches
  • Powered surgical instruments which enable an orthopaedic surgeon to cut and remodel bone or separate tissues with minimal damage
  • Computer monitors, image intensifers and diagnostic imaging systems which allow the surgeon to have live images and/or 3D images for guidance during operations
  • Other specialised equipment such as microscopes – depending on the nature of the surgery.