Operating Theatres – Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Every year, around 3-4 million operations are carried out in the United Kingdom. Many operations require specialist surgical equipment, which is beyond the remit of this article. What this article will discuss, however, is the standard surgical instruments that every operating theatre in the country is equipped with. Many of these instruments have remained largely unchanged since the revolutionary 19th and early 20th century – when the practice of modern surgery was defined and codified. Unlike the instruments present in those early days, most of these crucial tools are single-use.
Forceps are the primary manipulation tool of the surgeon. Surgeons avoid using their fingers to manipulate the human body at all costs. Human fingers are large, clumsy, and slippery (in latex gloves) in comparison to forceps. Several kinds of forceps are commonly used in operating theatres. The two most commonly used are ‘dissection’ and ‘hinged’ forceps. Medical-supermarket.com sells forceps to UK doctors.
Probes are extremely simple instruments used for exploring tight anatomical spaces. Probes are usually slender, single-use objects. Some specialist probes are fitted with heads adapted for the exploration of organs or veins. All surgeries have an inspection element, and this usually involves probes.
The human body has a natural ‘plastic memory’. If a surgeon actually wants to work within the human body, then they need to hold it open somehow. This is where retractors come in handy. They have lockable blades that allow a surgeon to access an interior area without fear of it closing up on them. Some retractors need to be manually held by an assistant during surgery.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Perhaps the most famous surgical instrument of them all, the ubiquitous scalpel is one of the main cutting tools used in the operating theatre. The modern surgical scalpel was patented in 1915. It resembled the modern scalpel almost exactly – having a reusable handle and disposable blade. Scalpels are used in a huge variety of operating procedures for cutting into the human body or removing tissue.
Almost all operations that involve cutting into the body require a vacuum in order to be performed safely and efficiently. Blood and other bodily fluids can get in the way of a surgeon as they go about their work. Regular suction of bodily fluids at the site of the incision is necessary.
Surgical scissors come in all shapes and sizes – including some rather odd examples used for cutting sutures in hard-to-reach spaces. Most surgical scissors are right-handed instruments, which means that left-handed surgeons either need to go out of their way to get instruments or adapt to the accurate use of their ‘wrong’ hand.
Surgeons use clamps in order to cut off blood flow during an operation. This is often a crucial procedure – unchecked bleeding can be fatal during a procedure. There are many kinds of disposable clamps used in surgical settings. Most surgical clamps have scissor-like handles so that they can be used in hard-to-reach places.