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The Day of Surgery / Getting Ready For Surgery / The Operating Room

What to expect the day of surgery:

On the day of surgery, you will meet with the medical team involved in your surgery. This may include your surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and various other healthcare professionals.

Getting ready for surgery:

You may expect some of the following to occur:

  • You may need to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will receive an identification bracelet.
  • An intravenous line may be inserted in your forearm for anesthetics and other medications.
  • You will be transported on a stretcher to the operating room.

What does the operating room look like?

Picture of the operating room during surgery

The operating room can be an intimidating place, with a lot of unfamiliar technical equipment. The following is a brief list of equipment you may see in the operating room. However, each operating room varies depending on the type of surgery being performed.

  • The operating table in the center of the room can be raised, lowered, and tilted in any direction.
  • The operating lamp allows for brilliant illumination without shadows during surgery.
  • You may be connected to various monitors that keep track of your vital signs, such as your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • A ventilator or breathing machine stands by the head of the operating table. The ventilator will breathe for you during the procedure by moving oxygen and air in and out of your lungs.
  • Sterile instruments to be used during surgery are arranged on a stainless steel table.
  • A diathermy machine, to control bleeding, usually is present.
  • If the surgery requires it, a heart-lung machine, or other specialized equipment, may be brought into the room.

Some treatments used in the operating room:

Some of the various technologies and medications available to patients during or after surgery include the following:

  • bispectral index (BIS) - a monitoring system that monitors the state of the brain in the intensive care unit, the operating room, and for clinical research. The system analyzes the patient's brain wave pattern and converts it into a "depth of sedation" number allowing anesthesiologists to continuously monitor the state of the brain.
  • scopolamine patch - a prescription drug that helps to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, the scopolamine patch is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent nausea and vomiting during or after surgery. The small patch is placed behind the ear the night before surgery, allowing medication to be absorbed through the skin and travel directly into the bloodstream.
  • remifentanil - an analgesic (pain reliever) for inducing and maintaining general anesthesia during surgery. The drug safely breaks down in the bloodstream and body tissues very quickly. However, unlike other drugs, remifentanil is broken down by enzymes in the blood and muscles, rather than in the liver and kidneys. This results in patients waking sooner and having breathing tubes, often inserted during surgery, removed sooner.
  • fibrin sealants - this class of blood-derived (made from plasma) fibrin sealants helps to stop oozing from small blood vessels during surgery when conventional surgical techniques are not feasible. The sealants, which form a flexible material over the oozing blood vessel, help control bleeding within minutes.

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Online Resources of Surgical Care

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