The Monday Memo
December 2, 2013 PITT DPT STUDENTS
“Watching a Master at Work”
Up until last week my experience with the operating room has been the patient on the table counting backwards as I am being put under anesthetics. I remember the feeling of being wheeled into the room, nervous and scared, and seeing a crew of individuals in scrubs with masks on ready to operate on my shoulder. Then in a blink of an eye I am being awakened and everything was done.
The other week I had the opportunity to observe a couple surgical procedures at St. Margaret’s Hospital. When walking into the operating room, this time as an observer, I remembered that feeling I felt all those years ago. After about 10 minutes though I realized that the OR is not such a scary place and is a place of work for these individuals in the scrubs. I quickly developed a new respect for all those involved in a surgical procedure and the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes while to the patient it’s a blink of an eye.
The first procedure I saw was a knee scope and debridement of scar tissue from a previous procedure. This is where I got to see the surgeon for what he really is, a Master of his Trade. With a scope in one hand and a debridement tool in the other I was instantly amazed by his ability to navigate around the knee with precision and all with the use of what looks like giant chopsticks. I was amazed by the ability to navigate around with this tiny camera and interpret what he is seeing. It was a quick procedure lasting only about 45 minutes.
The next procedure I observed was an ACL with the use of an allograft. Prior to the procedure I got to sit in on the conversation between the Physician Assistant and the rep who provided the graft. He walked her through the process for prepping the graft and how it would be fed through. Watching the procedure was a jaw dropping eye opener and I gained even more respect for the entire crew. First the surgeon went in with the scope to clear out the remainder of the torn ACL. Two tunnels were drilled, one in the femur and the other in the tibia. The graft was fed through the tunnel in the tibia and then up through the femur where the plug sat into the tunnel. The procedure took a couple hours and it was not an easy one. The patient was a larger individual so it took a lot of lifting and stabilizing by the assistants so the surgeon could get the job done right. I also gained a new appreciation for the degree of pain the patient will be in after seeing everything that was done.
What I took away from this experience is that it is important for us to understand how the surgical procedures are performed and what exactly they entail. It is also important for us as therapists to have a good relationship with the surgeons and how they conduct their procedures. They put a lot of work and effort into the surgical procedure and we need to compliment that with a proper rehabilitation process.
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