The surgical technician is the unsung hero of the operating room. We are obliged to practice impeccable sterile technique, to know all the tools and accessories used in the operating room, to have a clear understanding of the complete surgical procedures and to have an idea of the human anatomy. When studying this craft there are some restless and sometimes overwhelming moments, but they are worth it.
I have been working as a surgeon since 2002, when I graduated from the Naval School of Medical Sciences in Portsmouth, Virginia. As a junior navy nurse. Since then, I have worked in a large hospital, a small clinic and operating room in western Iraq, treating the victims of the war. During this time, I have fallen in love with the pillars of knowledge that define the difference between bad, worthy, and great technologies. I want to share this information with those of you who are considering this career or just starting out so you can shorten the path to learning and focus on the basics.
Sterile technology is one of the cornerstones of this profession. Generally speaking, this means that the surgeon uses all his training to reduce the contamination of the surgical wound. The two main reasons we obsessively focus on infertility are the reduction of infections and cross-infection. The patient gave us modest confidence to ensure that his wounds would remain clean and that he would never be exposed to other patients’ diseases. These ideas are at the heart of medicine as a whole, but surgeons need to bring it to a certain level of insanity for the benefit of the patient.
We do this by studying the specific ways of hand washing, the order in which we put on the robe and gloves, how to clean the area on which it will work, and how to sterilely drape it. During the operation itself, we are responsible for maintaining the sterility of the back table and awareness of potential contamination pathways during the procedure. We monitor surgeons and all tools to make sure they don’t touch anything unsterile and are as free of bacteria as possible.
The second fundamental feature characteristic of the great surgeon technicians is their deep knowledge of human anatomy. The reasons you should know the human body may not be what you think. Surgeons need to know the anatomy when cutting, drilling and sewing. Technologists primarily use this information to determine which tools will be used next.
Specific tools are developed by scientists and surgeons based on certain types of human tissue. The surgeon will use a more aggressive tool on the firm fascia compared to a small thin vessel that can be easily torn. Many tissues look the same when bleeding begins, and in order to choose the right tool, basic understanding is required, combined with little experience. Similarly, the suture material is chosen depending on the stitched fabric. For example, closing the skin seam requires a thinner seam with a different type of needle than closing the peritoneum (belly lining).
Another important information that the great surgeon knows is the whole surgical procedure in which he participates. It is believed that during our studies we will work in a hospital where hundreds of different surgeries will take place, and that we will have to study and fill out reports on most of them, usually more than a hundred.
This is so important because it allows us to anticipate the consumables and tools needed for the cause. If the operating room is properly prepared, it will reduce the time during which the wound will be opened to bacteria. It also reduces the time during which the patient is exposed to anesthetics, which must then be filtered out of their body.
In my experience, the surgical techniques I considered experts in the field are those who carefully study these principles and always strive to expand this base. Sometimes it’s easy to lose concentration and relax a little. But I like to remember that all the patients on the table are someone’s husband, wife, son, daughter or friend, and treat them as if they were my own.