Choosing the Right Operating Table

An operating table (or surgical table) is used in the operating room to position the patient during a surgical procedure. It is made up of a main platform, on which the patient sits or lies down, and which can be divided into several sections, as well as a central base to adjust the height and inclination of the platform.

There are several possible configurations and adjustments in order to place the patient in a multitude of positions, for example in prone position for spinal surgery or semi-seated for ENT surgery.

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  • How does an operating table work?

    Operating tables require a source of power to control the various settings such as the height of the table or the inclination of the sleeping surface (table top).

    Famed Żywiec electric operating table

    We can thus distinguish between:

    Sometimes operating tables can combine different operating modes and have, for example, an adjustable sleeping surface via an electric actuator and an adjustable headrest via a hydraulic actuator.

    It should be noted that an operating table’s operating mode will not only have an impact on the daily ease of use, but also on the installation conditions and maintenance constraints.

  • What are the different types of operating tables?

    In general, for each table, the height and inclination of the surfaces are adjustable to allow for greater working comfort for the surgeon. It is also possible to add a multitude of accessories to provide the patient with additional support. The type of operation performed will also determine the type of operating table.

    STERIS orthopedic operating table

    The main difference is between universal operating tables and specialized operating tables, which themselves come in different models depending on the specialization.

    • Universal operating tables are often used in general (or gastroenterological) surgery and minor surgery. These operating tables are versatile and adaptable to a wide variety of types of surgery, i.e. cardiovascular, bladder, plastic, etc.
    • Specialized operating tables are dedicated to one or more medical specialties. They can be distinguished by a specific configuration and/or accessories. For example:

    For outpatient surgery, there are mobile (usually on wheels) rather than fixed (mounted on a base anchored to the ground) operating tables.

  • What technical criteria should be taken into account when installing and maintaining an operating table?

    Before buying anything it is important to take into account several technical criteria for the installation of the operating table such as its size, power supply mode, compatibility with the required accessories and safety conditions.

    • Space requirement: the external dimensions of the table and the space it will occupy in its different positions are essential elements to consider. The patient’s positioning may vary according to the type of surgery, which is why it’s so important to take into account the different movements of the table. You will need to make your choice according to the space available in the operating room.
    • Power supply: you will have to ensure that you have an electric outlet close by in order to use an electric operating table for example.
    • Accessory compatibility: Depending on your required applications, it is essential to check the compatibility of the operating table with the required accessories such as leg holders, a traction frame, an IV stand, etc. Similarly, if it is necessary to perform a radiological procedure during surgery, a radiolucent surface will be required.
    • Safety: the patient’s safety is the priority. It is therefore important to look at the antibacterial/antifungal and non-flammable properties of the sleeping surface. The capacity of the table (maximum load it can withstand) is also very important. In particular to avoid any fall risks if operations are going to be carried out on obese patients.

    Important technical criteria for installing an operating table:

    • Space requirement: keep in mind the available space
    • Power supply: make sure you have a source of power close by
    • Acessory compatibility
    • Patient safety
  • What are the possible positions on a surgical table?

    ALVO operating table in Trendelenburg position

    There are several positions suitable for various surgical procedures: supine, prone, lateral, Trendelenburg, reverse Trendelenburg, lithotomy and sitting positions.

    • Supine position: this is the basic position on an operating table, i.e. lying horizontally on one’s back. The height of the operating table can be adjusted to the surgeon’s height.
    • Prone position:the patient lies on his or her belly with his or her head in a face positioner. This position is suitable for operations on the spine, for example.
    • Lateral position: the patient lies on the side opposite the area being operated on. The patient is held down with staps in order to prevent falls. This position is suitable for hip or kidney operations, for example.
    • Trendelenburg position: is a variation on the supine position. The sleeping surface is inclined in this case, with the patient’s lower limbs higher than his or her head. This position is suitable for interventions in the abdominal area for better visualization of the organs.
    • Reverse Trendelenburg position: this position is similar to the Trendelenburg position except that the patient’s lower limbs are lower than the head in this case. This position is very convenient for head and neck operations, for example.
    • Lithotomy position: this position is the most commonly used during childbirth with the feet placed on leg holders (or stirrups).
    • Sitting position (or Fowler’s position): the sleeping surface is converted into a chair with the patient sitting at a 90° angle. This position is ideal for neurosurgery or maxillofacial surgery.
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