The operating room can be a place of awe-inspiring procedures that are performed daily to enrich, and even save lives. It is no less incredible to learn of the multitude of tools that are used in the operating room to perform the vast array of operations in this day and age.
The ability to perform any surgical procedure successfully rests with a solid foundation of surgical tools. The most basic, as well as essential, tools which enable the surgeon and his staff to perform and complete procedures are the "hand instruments." Hand instruments enable the surgeon and assisting staff to perform the basic techniques of an operation: making the incision, clamping bleeders, cauterising tissue amd closing the wound at the completion of the case. These basic hand instruments include such items as the scalpel (surgical knife), assorted hemostats (clamps for small bleeding vessels), retractors (used to separate the wound and improve visualisation, forceps (to grasp and hold tissue) and needle holders used to suture tissue and to close wounds.
Before the advent of the use of high intensity electrical current to cut tissue and coagulate bleeding vessels, the surgeon had literally no alternative but to clamp and tie off bleeding vessels and to cut tissue with either an scalpel or scissors. In 1926, a surgeon by the name of Dr. Harvey Cushing performed the first surgical procedure using electrosurgical tools, which was developed over two years of hard work at Harvard University by Dr. William Bovie. Since then, the electrosurgical unit is a mainstay in virtually all operating rooms and for the vast majority of procedures.
Orthopaedic surgery is surgery on bones, joints and muscles. These surgical procedures straighten crooked legs, replace arthritic hips and knees, and help people to stand straighter and taller. One would be ever so surprised to learn just what specialised tools make up the orthopaedic surgeon's armamentarium. Consider power saws, screwdrivers, hammers, drills, metallic plates and steel pins. These are all part of what the surgeon needs to be able to fix broken bones, implant artificial joints and correct spinal deformities.
The operating table is the centrepiece for all surgical procedures. It is narrow and long. It is designed for the surgeon and assisting staff to get close to the patient. It can be made to assume a variety of positions, depending on the needs of the surgeon. Some table are made for specific procedures, such as the fracture table for hip surgery, or urology table for kidney and urinary procedures.
The surgical microscope is used for a wide variety of surgicla procedures. It is heavily used in opthalmic (eye) surgery as well as in neurosurgical procedures of the brain and spinal cord. The microscope can be attached to a TV monitor to allow viewing by other staff members and observers. It can be covered with sterile drapes to allow the surgeon to manipulate it throughout the procedure. Many microscopes are now fitted with DVD recording capabilities.