Monday, July 5, 2010

OR observation day...

This afternoon, on my day off, I signed up to observe in the OR.  I was a bit unsure if I would get to observe since one of the surgeons had to call in sick a few weeks ago. But the VVF surgeon from Uganda decided to stay, and one of my Saturday crew arrivals is a general surgeon. These two will, along with another surgeon who's already been here for a few days, pick up the extra approximately 100 patients.

I headed down to the female locker room at 1:30, changed into scrubs, and then went down to the OR office. They were still cleaning up OR #4, and #3 was scheduled with a redo VVF repair which I couldn't watch because the lady is under just a spinal anesthetic and not fully under.

The office staff told me to come back at 2:15 and by then the patient should be just going under anesthesia. I came back at that time, and the patient still wasn't around! So I sat in the office and watched the camera feed, waiting for the lady to walk in... which she did about 3:45.

This patient came in with goiter, a condition usually not seen in the developed world, thanks to iodine in our diet, especially in table salt. The surgeon was going to remove her thyroid--which my A&P class taught me would be fairly bloody because the thyroid gland is highly vascularized. Good stuff.

By the time I came into the OR, she was under and the surgeon, Dr. Leo, and two nurses were scrubbing in. Dr. Leo prayed for the lady and for all the OR staff. And then he started cutting in!

OK, I'll spare you the gory details (and all the pictures)... but there was a fair amount of blood to suction up. I thought the cauterizing tip and tweezers were pretty cool. Both the tip and tweezers connected to electrical leads from the cauterizing machine and he used them to stop bloodflow from the tiny vessels as he pulled the skin back from the thyroid gland and then to separate the mass away.

The surgery was to take about 2 hours, and I had to leave at 5pm so I could sign out before the OR office closed for the day. Then back to the locker room to change, then off to dinner... not much appetite. I wonder why?

All in all, it was pretty cool. Not something I really care to do again, but I'm glad I did it once.

*I just don't like blood... in any form!*


  1. Wow, that sounds neat. I'm really enjoying reading all about what your doing on ship!

  2. "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works,and my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14

  3. Wow Katie!!! That's so great!!! I'm so glad you had the guts to watch surgery (this time :D) !!! WIsh I could of watched too!!! That would of been sooo interesting!!!
    Hope your day goes well today!!!