What to Expect in the Operating Room

What to Expect in the Operating RoomWhat do I expect in the Operating Room?
The physical layout varies from one facility to the next, but once you arrive in the operating room you will notice that there is a lot of activity in the area. You will also notice that everyone is dressed in the same way. Do not be alarmed! When it is time for the surgery to begin you will be taken either by walking or by a stretcher to the operating room. You may notice bright lights instruments, equipment, and an environment that is so clean we call it “sterile.” You will notice the operating room team members putting masks on their faces, as they enter the operating room to help keep the room free of germs.

Will I remain on the stretcher for surgery?
No. The nurse will help you to move onto the operating table, which will feel hard and sometimes cool. Since the operating room table is narrow a safety strap will be placed across your lower abdomen, thighs or legs. Your arms will be placed and secured on padded arm boards to prevent them from falling off the table.

What questions will they ask me?
The same questions asked of you while you were prepared for your surgery will be asked once more for your safe care. These questions include such things as your name, whether you have any allergies, when you last had something to eat or drink, what type of procedure you are planning on having, and the name of your surgeon.

What will the anesthesiologist do?
A nurse anesthetist or the anesthesiologist will attach a blood pressure cuff, ECG leads (sticky pads with little “nubs” on the end that will be used to monitor your heart during surgery), and a pulse oximeter (a plastic clip attached to your fingertip and used to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood during surgery.) If you are receiving a general anesthetic, you may be given a mask and asked to breathe deeply. The nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist may inject anesthetic into your I.V. to relax you and make you comfortable. Some patients report the medication burns slightly or feels “tight” at the site of the intravenous.

What is a time out?
A “Pause” or “Time Out” will take place just before starting your surgery/procedure by everyone in the room with you. This is a final proof that everyone agrees they have the correct patient, procedure, side, site, position and the presence of any implants or special equipment if needed.

How long will I be in surgery?
Your time in the operating room will depend on the type of surgery/procedure you are having. The whole team will be in the operating room to help your surgeon provide you with the best care and make sure you are safe and comfortable during your surgery/procedure.

Will my family receive updates while I am in the Operating Room?
While you are in surgery your family may receive updates on the length or progress of your surgery. Once your surgery is complete the surgeon will speak to your family. The anesthesia provider will see that you awaken safely and take you to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit.

Reprinted with permission by the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN).
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. ASPAN Patient Information. Available at: www.aspan.org.