Operating Room Environment and the Surgical Team

Operating Room Environment and the Surgical Team



Arthroscopy of the ankle and foot is a technically demanding procedure that requires meticulous attention to detail, specialized instrumentation, experience, assistance, and most importantly a team effort for success. If any of these components are weak or inadequate, the result of the procedure may be compromised to the detriment of the patient.


The operating room must be large enough to accommodate all personnel as well as the arthroscopy tower and, when necessary, fluoroscopy. It should have the necessary equipment for general, regional, or local anesthesia, and suction should be calibrated appropriately for the type of motorized instruments used. The arthroscopy tower should be mobile, allowing the procedure to be transferred to another room if needed. Its components include the video monitor, video camera, powerbox, light source, digital recorder, and digital printer if one is used (Fig. 4-1).


Ankle arthroscopy can be performed in three different positions: in the supine position using a thigh and ankle holder, in the lateral decubitus position using a bean bag, and using a leg holder with the foot of the table bent at 90°.

We prefer the supine position using general or regional anesthesia, supplemented by a popliteal block (Chap. 6). Local anesthesia is not recommended except for diagnostic purposes. If general anesthesia is used, the patient should be paralyzed to allow easier distraction and visualization whenever possible. After appropriate anesthesia is administered, a suitable antibiotic is given intravenously. A tourniquet is applied to the upper thigh before preparing and draping the leg, and a well-padded thigh support is used to secure the thigh in about 45° of hip flexion. The thigh support is placed proximal to the popliteal fossa to prevent injury to the neurovascular structures. The patient is then rolled slightly clockwise until the center of the knee and ankle are pointed straight to the ceiling. A post is placed against the greater trochanter, proximal to the thigh support to prevent external rotation of the hip (Fig. 4-2). The table pad at the foot of the bed is removed to give the surgeon better access to the posterior hindfoot, and the nonoperated leg is placed on well-padded blankets to prevent neurovascular injury (Fig. 4-3A, B). The operated extremity is then prepared and draped. A sterile clamp is attached to the table over the drapes, and the sterile foot holder is used for invasive distraction before applying the tibial and calcaneal pins. When noninvasive distraction is used, a metal bar is inserted through the distractor and attached to a sterile
clamp (Fig. 4-4). With this setup, the surgeon can sit or stand during the surgery, and both the anterior and posterior portions of the ankle are easily accessible without further manipulation of the patient’s extremity.

FIGURE 4-1. The arthroscopy cart holds the video monitor and power sources for the video camera, light source, DVD and audio recorder, motorized shaver, and photo printer.

FIGURE 4-2. Right ankle. The patient is secured on a thigh holder that is carefully padded. To prevent external rotation of the leg at the hip, a side post is placed over the area of the greater trochanter with extra padding. A tourniquet is applied for hemostasis during the procedure.


The medial malleolus, distal tibia, and fibula are outlined. A perpendicular line is drawn from the tip of the fibula to the Achilles; a second line parallel to this is drawn 1.2 cm proximal to the tip of the fibula to reference the location of the posterolateral portal. The dorsalis pedis pulse should be carefully palpated and its position marked. Likewise, the saphenous vein and the anterior tibial tendon are marked over the surface of the ankle.

Marking the superficial peroneal nerve branches is particularly important: this is the structure most at risk for injury when the anterolateral portal is created. This identification is facilitated by holding the foot in plantar flexion and inversion. The nerve can usually be palpated anterior and distal to the lateral malleolus. The nerve is marked prior to prepping the leg, since it is easier to feel and see, and re-marked after draping. The joint line is identified by palpation in flexion and extension of the ankle (Fig. 4-5A, B).

FIGURE 4-3. OR table preparation. The distal table pad is removed prior to prepping to facilitate positioning as well as posterior ankle arthroscopy. (A) Pad on bed. (B) Pad off bed and nonoperative leg well padded with sequential compression device (SCD).


Without distraction, it is difficult to place a rigid arthroscope over a curved structure, such as the dome of the talus, without scuffing the cartilage or breaking the instrument. With distraction, the arthroscope can be more easily manipulated posteriorly without damage to the tissues or equipment (Fig. 4-6). Various joint-distraction techniques have been described to improve visualization and ease of access for operative instrumentation.1, 2, 3 Both noninvasive soft tissue distraction and invasive mechanical distractors may be used. With improved noninvasive instrumentation, adequate visualization is possible without invasive techniques in almost all cases.


The patient’s generalized ligamentous laxity should be assessed preoperatively to help predict how much distraction is needed during surgery. The soft tissue distraction device should be applied with caution. It should grip around the inferior aspect of the ankle and foot, as well as along the dorsal surface of the midfoot. However, care must be taken to ensure the device does not exert excessive pressure over the anterior tibial neurovascular bundle, and clicking the distraction clamp “back one” should be done at 1 hour to help prevent complications (Fig. 4-7).The anteromedial portal is established and the arthroscope inserted. A diagnostic examination can be accomplished and an assessment made as to whether the soft tissue distraction technique used is adequate to perform both a complete diagnostic examination and surgery.

FIGURE 4-4. Right ankle. A sterile clamp is attached to the table over the drapes; a sterile foot holder or noninvasive distraction post is inserted into this clamp. Ensure adequate slack in the drapes prior to clamp placement to provide adequate space to do posterior arthroscopy.

FIGURE 4-5. Anterior view, right ankle. (A) Before making an incision, the nerves, vessels, tendons, and bony anatomy are marked. (B) Posterolateral view of the right ankle. Note the markings on the fibula and line drawn perpendicular to Achilles. The parallel line 1.2 cm proximal to the tip of the fibula references placement of the posterolateral portal.

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Sep 25, 2018 | Posted by in RHEUMATOLOGY | Comments Off on Operating Room Environment and the Surgical Team
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