The language of scrub


Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Allied Health
Course: BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice
Category: Health

1 September 2021

Oh my goodness my head is spinning! What they forget to tell you when you move into scrub is that you need to learn a completely new language: the language of surgical instruments.

It wouldn’t be too bad but to the uninitiated (me) they all look the same. Well, apart from some look like tweezers and some look like scissors and some just look positively medieval!

To make it worse they all have specific names, from Debakey to Deavers to Laines and Littlewoods. Not only that but we’re expected to know these, identify them from a tray of 100 other almost identical instruments and hand them swiftly to the surgeon, at least a nanosecond before they actually ask for it. You might as well be speaking Outer Mongolian and languages were never my strong point at school.

However, it’s not until you look closely that you can see the tips and blades are quite different. This means they are used on different types of tissue, for example delicate tissue would use fine forceps without teeth, whilst tougher tissue like muscle, needs chunky forceps with teeth.

Fortunately our practice educator decided to give us poor students a chance to hold and examine all the instruments in a small basic set. This was a godsend. Just to be able to pick them up, turn them over and compare each one without the beady eye of the surgeon on you was so helpful.

A great tip passed on by one of the scrub nurses is to take photos of the instrument list and the instrument tray on your phone as the instruments are listed in order, and then practice naming them whenever you get a spare moment. So this week’s tea breaks were spent hunched over my phone muttering the names under my breath. However, it paid off and I can now spot a Mayo from a McIndoe in under ten seconds #result.



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