When a surgical team enters an operating room in 2020 to provide a patient with life-saving care, they follow streamlined, data-based processes supported by advanced technologies. But it hasn’t been that way for most of history.
Take a look at this timeline to see how the operating room as we know it today is still relatively new:
The first mentions of surgical interventions is found in the Neolithic period. History says this was the beginning of craniotomy, or more specifically trephining,
making holes in the skull by tapping a sharp object with a small hammer. Trephining may have been a part of magic or religious rituals or possibly, because people thought they would exorcise demons from a possessed person. Later, the procedure could have been performed to relieve headaches or seizures. History doesn’t, however, share information on dedicated operating rooms to perform those procedures.
During this time period, surgical procedures shifted from being a part of rituals to a formal discipline. Hippocrates founded the Hippocratic School of Medicine during this era. Because this was a period of continual war, surgeons performed procedures, including amputations
, related to battle-related injuries. Asklpieia
, or health centers where sick people could recover emerged, but not formal operating rooms.
Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya, “Rhazes,” ran the first Royal Hospital at Ray, Iran, and later at Muqtadari Hospital in Baghdad. He developed treatments for a variety of conditions and illnesses, including the first interventions for cancer, and also established surgical suites
During the Roman Empire, surgeries were performed in tents
where troops would take wounded soldiers.
In the Middle Ages, those early field hospitals were replaced by indoor facilities, sometimes built into the structure of a fort. Rooms dedicated to getting soldiers back into battle as soon as possible came complete with a wooden table for surgery.
Surgical tents made a reappearance during the Napoleonic Wars and the U.S. Civil War. Also, during this era, however, permanent, indoor surgical theaters trended for patient care as well as instructional purposes.
The 1900s brought more wars and more need for surgical facilities for soldiers. During the Korean War, mobile army surgical hospitals or MASH units
brought capabilities close to the front. In the first half of the century, surgical teams established what most people today would recognize as operating rooms, and began wearing gowns, gloves, masks, and antiseptics. In the later 1900s, medtech advanced. Operating rooms were stocked with disposal products to reduce cross-infection, and monitoring equipment made its debut, eliminating the necessity to manually check heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and even blood oxygen levels via fingertip sensor.
Operating Rooms Today: Digitally Transformed
Healthcare’s focus in the 21st century is on improving patient outcomes and experiences, and operating facilities sustainably and efficiently. To balance patient needs with optimized operations, ORs went digital.