Pass the Scalpel: 9 Common Surgeries You May Assist with as a Surgical Tech

Common surgeries

Preparing patients for surgery takes a special kind of person—one who combines human compassion and unflappable calm with a technical precision. That’s part of what makes the surgical technologist such an invaluable member of the healthcare team. It’s a unique combination of personal traits that not everyone has to offer.

The job of the surgical tech takes someone who has a composed demeanor and a vigilant mindset. But make no mistake, there is a heavy dose of technical skill that comes with this job, from preparing the operating room to assisting the surgeon during the procedure.

So what surgical procedures are techs focusing their talent on most often? Keep reading as we take a closer look at nine common surgeries and procedures techs may assist with throughout their careers.

9 common surgeries you may assist with as a surgical technologist

1. Cardiac catheterizations

Cardiac catheterizations is a common procedure used to help doctors monitor and treat heart health. This procedure is used to measure the pressure and flow of blood in a patient’s heart, providing valuable information regarding any potential disease of the heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries.

“During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

2. Endoscopic procedures

One of the keys to correctly diagnosing a health issue is getting a good look at it. That’s where endoscopic procedures come in. Endoscopy, generally speaking, is the use of an instrument to see inside the body.

One common method is for a doctor to insert a flexible tube fitted with a small camera and source of light into the body. How this tube is inserted depends on the procedure. Upper-gastrointestinal endoscopic tubes will travel through a patient’s mouth and throat, while lower-gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures—like a colonoscopy—will begin from the patient’s rectum. As you may imagine, not all of these procedures will require a surgical technician. Technological advancements like the capsule endoscopy, which has patients swallow a pill-sized camera, allows for much less invasive views of a patient’s internal systems.

That said, some procedures like arthroscopy, the internal examination of a joint, require surgical incisions to allow endoscopic equipment in for a clear look.

3. Balloon angioplasty of coronary arteries

Coronary artery disease affects millions of people as arteries become narrowed or blocked by built up plaque. Balloon angioplasty is a procedure that attempts to open these arteries with narrowed passageways.

A balloon angioplasty requires the insertion of a long, thin tube called a catheter with a small balloon on its tip. This balloon is then inflated at the site of arterial blockage in order to compress the plaque against the artery wall. This flattening allows for much easier blood flow through the artery.

4. Hysterectomy

Women experiencing reproductive health issues may undergo a hysterectomy, which is the procedure of removing part or all of the uterus, depending on the severity of the issue. The most common type of hysterectomy is abdominal with open surgery, according to WebMD, accounting for 65 percent of all procedures.

5. Cesarean section

Also commonly known as a C-section, a cesarean section is a surgical procedure to deliver a baby through an incision in the abdomen and uterus. This procedure is commonly performed when a traditional birth poses risks to the baby or mother. Cesarean sections can be either planned procedures or unplanned if troubles develop during labor, according to Baby Center

6. Bone fracture repair

While many broken bones can heal with the use of immobilizing casts to keep things in place while healing occurs, it’s fairly common for complicated bone breaks to be treated through surgery. These bone breaks require a surgeon to piece together and stabilize broken bones with internal pins, screws and/or plates. These procedures can be fairly complicated, depending on the location of the break.

7. Coronary artery bypass graft

There’s more than one way for physicians to deal with clogged coronary arteries. Instead of performing a balloon angioplasty, medical practitioners may recommend rerouting blood around the troublesome artery with a bypass made from a healthy blood vessel taken from elsewhere in the body.

In this procedure, the surgeon attaches the ends of the graft blood vessel on opposite sides of the blockage, allowing blood to bypass the problem area within the heart.

8. Total knee replacement

When walking—or even sitting—is no longer a pleasure because pain and stiffness radiates from the knee, a total knee replacement may be necessary. This highly complex surgery is performed by an orthopedic surgeon.

This procedure involves the removal of damaged bone and cartilage in the knee and their subsequent replacement with artificial parts.

9. Total hip replacement

Like a knee replacement, a total hip replacement procedure requires a doctor to surgically remove damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with metal and plastic components. This is a very invasive procedure that often comes as a last resort for patients trying to manage arthritic hip pain.

This procedure, along with knee replacement surgery, can take multiple hours to complete, so surgical techs need to have stamina and mental focus to successfully assist.

Common surgeries for today’s surgical technologist

These are just a small sampling of common surgeries you may assist with as a surgical tech. There’s no shortage of exciting life-changing procedures for surgical technicians to play a vital role in. Does this sound to you like an intriguing way to earn a living?  If so, learn more about the technical skills you’ll need as a surgical tech by reading, “Surgical Technologist Duties: A Day in The Life”.


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Gordon Hanson

Gordon is a freelance writer for Collegis Education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. He enjoys using the storytelling power of words to help others discover new paths in the journeys of life.

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