An operating theater (also known as an operating room (OR), operating suite, or operation suite) is a facility within a hospital where surgical operations are carried out in an aseptic environment.
Historically, the term "operating theater" referred to a non-sterile, tiered theater or amphitheater in which students and other spectators could watch surgeons perform surgery. Contemporary operating rooms are usually devoid of a theater setting, making the term "operating theater" a misnomer in those cases.
Operating rooms are spacious, in a cleanroom, and well-lit, typically with overhead surgical lights, and may have viewing screens and monitors. Operating rooms are generally windowless, though windows are becoming more prevalent in newly built theaters to provide clinical teams with natural light, and feature controlled temperature and humidity. Special air handlers filter the air and maintain a slightly elevated pressure. Electricity support has backup systems in case of a black-out. Rooms are supplied with wall suction, oxygen, and possibly other anesthetic gases. Key equipment consists of the operating table and the anesthesia cart. In addition, there are tables to set up instruments. There is storage space for common surgical supplies. There are containers for disposables. Outside the operating room, or sometimes integrated within, is a dedicated scrubbing area that is used by surgeons, anesthetists, ODPs (operating department practitioners), and nurses prior to surgery. An operating room will have a map to enable the terminal cleaner to realign the operating table and equipment to the desired layout during cleaning. Operating rooms are typically supported by an anaesthetic room, prep room, scrub and a dirty utility room.
Several operating rooms are part of the operating suite that forms a distinct section within a health-care facility. Besides the operating rooms and their wash rooms, it contains rooms for personnel to change, wash, and rest, preparation and recovery rooms, storage and cleaning facilities, offices, dedicated corridors, and possibly other supportive units. In larger facilities, the operating suite is climate- and air-controlled, and separated from other departments so that only authorized personnel have access.
Temperature and surgical site infections (SSI). The current operating room design temperature is between 65 and 75 °F (18 and 24 °C). Operating rooms are typically kept below 73.4 °F (23 °C) & room temperature is the most critical factor in influencing heat loss. Surgeons wear multiple layers (surgical gowns, lead aprons) and may perspire into an incision if not kept cool; excessive heat may also decrease concentration and increase the frequency of errors. Higher temperatures increased subjective physical demand and frustration of the surgical staff. One option is to heat the patient to prevent surgical site infections (SSI) and keep the surgical team cool. There is a 3 fold increase in infection for every 1.9 degree Celsius body temperature decrease because of weakened immune response at lower body temperatures. Radiation is the major cause of heat loss in patients, and convection (through air) is the second cause of heat loss. In the first hour, it is common for a healthy patient’s temperature to decrease 0.5-1.5 °C as anesthesia causes rapid decrease in core temperature. One study found that the most efficient method of maintaining normothermia included using warm wraps and a heating blanket (commercially known as a Bair Hugger) . Additionally, pre-warming for thirty minutes may prevent hypothermia.
People in the operating room wear PPE (personal protective equipment) to help prevent bacteria from infecting the surgical incision. This PPE includes the following:
The surgeon may also wear special glasses that help him/her to see more clearly. The circulating nurse and anesthesiologist will not wear a gown in the OR because they are not a part of the sterile team. They must keep a distance of 12-16 inches from any sterile object, person, or field.
Early operating theaters in an educational setting had raised tables or chairs at the center for performing operations surrounded by steep tiers of standing stalls for students and other spectators to observe the case in progress. The surgeons wore street clothes with an apron to protect them from blood stains, and they operated bare-handed with unsterilized instruments and supplies.
The University of Padua began teaching medicine in 1222. It played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body. In 1884 German surgeon Gustav Neuber implemented a comprehensive set of restrictions to ensure sterilization and aseptic operating conditions through the use of gowns, caps, and shoe covers, all of which were cleansed in his newly invented autoclave. In 1885 he designed and built a private hospital in the woods where the walls, floors and hands, arms and faces of staff were washed with mercuric chloride, instruments were made with flat surfaces and the shelving was easy-to-clean glass. Neuber also introduced separate operating theaters for infected and uninfected patients and the use of heated and filtered air in the theater to eliminate germs. In 1890 surgical gloves were introduced to the practice of medicine by William Halsted. Aseptic surgery was pioneered in the United States by Charles McBurney.
See also: Anatomical theatre
The oldest surviving operating theater is thought to be the 1804 operating theater of the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The 1821 Ether Dome of the Massachusetts General Hospital is still in use as a lecture hall. Another surviving operating theater is the Old Operating Theatre in London. Built in 1822, it is now a museum of surgical history. The Anatomical Theater at the University of Padua, in Italy, inside Palazzo Bo was constructed and used as a lecture hall for medical students who observed the dissection of corpses, not surgical operations. It was commissioned by the anatomist Girolamo Fabrizio d'Acquapendente in 1595.
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