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Operating theatres are usually situated in an operating theatre suite which is kept separate from the rest of the hospital to provide an environment of cleanliness and sterility to avoid the development of infections after an operation and to provide the required equipment to the surgeon and anaesthetist in an appropriate setup.

Most operating theatres are equipped with a separate anaesthetic room where the anaesthetist and the anaesthetic assistent administer the anaesthetic and procedures to the patients. The availability of an anaesthetic room provides a calm and controlled environment during the induction of the anaesthetic. An anaesthetic machine, monitoring devices, airway equipment, injection equipment, drugs and pumps are available in the anaesthetic room. However, the anaesthetic may also be started in the operating theatre in selected cases (often in emergencies and high risk cases).

After the administration of the anaesthetic the patient will be moved into the operating theatre and moved from the bed or trolley onto the operating table which can be adjusted according to the needs of the surgeon (e.g. height, side tilt, head tilt). An anaesthetic machine is available to maintain the anaesthetic with appropriate monitoring equipment, pumps and drip stands. 

Operating theatres are well ventilated and a constant temperature is maintained, ceiling lights and special operating lights are available. Some operating theatres require laminar flow for a higher turnover of ventilation around the patient and the operatign table to reduce the risk of an infection in certain operation (e.g. in orthopaedic and trauma operations). Equipment for the surgeon will be made available as required (e.g. monitors for laparoscopic and arthroscopic operations, cauterisation devices, scavenging, suction devices). Other equipment is available (Intermittent compression devices for the legs to prevent the formation of blood clots, warming blankets, fluid warmers, cardiac function monitors). A sink and sterile gowns and gloves are either available in the operating theatre or in an adjacent room (for the surgeon and anaesthetist to gown up).

Healthcare professional are required to wear clean shirts, trousers shoes and a hat (often green, blue or red) which are provided in changing rooms. In some hospitals and for some operations, it is mandatory to wear face masks.

The following staff is usually present during an operation: Surgeon +/- assistant, Anaesthetist +/- assistant, anaesthetic assistant or operatign department practitioner (ODP), scrub nurse, runner, healthcare asssistant. Other junior doctors or medical students may be present as agreed for training purposes.

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