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What Do Surgeons Do When They Need to Pee?

Surgeons have captivated the interest of pop culture and the respect of the world. After all, they studied for several years to save lives during surgeries.

But while surgery is portrayed on television and in movies, what truly happens in operating rooms may seem mysterious for many people.

The field piques the interest of many people, raising questions about how surgeons are during operations.

You might have also asked these questions once in your mind: What do surgeons do when they need to pee? Are surgeons allowed to go to the restroom during surgery?

This article will give you the answer based on general sanitary policies and the surgeons’ own words.

How long surgeons stand during surgeries?

The number of hours a surgery takes depends on how complex the operation is. For example, cataract surgery may take up to 45 minutes, while separating conjoined twins can last for over sixteen hours.

The Bowel and Bladder Community reports that a healthy person urinates six to seven times within 24 hours. Hence, on average, people can pee at least every four hours (without considering their fluid intake).

Surgeons are people, too: they also have to pee or defecate. But in surgical operations that last for several hours to even days, how can they respond to the call of nature without putting the surgery and the patient in danger?

Another surgeon or staff may continue.

Of course, surgeons do not wear adult diapers or catheters. Instead, another surgeon or operating room staff will take charge while the lead surgeon is taking a restroom break.

The patient will not be left alone in the room during lengthy and complex operations. Depending on the phase of the surgery, surgeons whose tasks are not urgent or prioritized can go to the restroom to pee.

Furthermore, surgeons have nurses, anesthesiologists, interns, medical schools, and other surgeons with them. Someone can look after the patient during the brief pause.

(The anesthesiologist and the surgeon cannot take a break at the same time, however.)

Surgeries require intense focus and concentration, so a surgeon enduring the discomfort of a full bladder can compromise the operation and the patient’s health.

Short breaks can also help relieve the surgeons’ mental fatigue.

Scheduling a relief time

If the surgery lasts for a day or longer, a relief team can substitute the surgeons and operating room personnel.

This arrangement can be conducted every twelve hours so that the original surgical team can nap or sleep for a few hours.

Other opportunities for a restroom break

During transplant surgeries (which also last for over eight hours), the recipient and the donor patients may not finish at the same time.

If this happens, the surgeons and staff may quickly pee or nourish themselves. Once the organ has already arrived, they must enter the operating room to continue the transplant surgery.

Preparing before operations

Before entering the operating room, surgeons plan for the operation at hand. They already considered the surgery’s basic timeline and sequence, including their bathroom breaks and rest times.

Such planning can be longer for more complex and challenging operations. Neurosurgeons prepare for a delicate and lengthy surgery for months, and they also account for “calls of nature.”

Surgeons also assess how much water, coffee, and food they will consume before operations. If they have no surgery scheduled during the morning, surgeons should eat a heavy breakfast as fuel for the day.

They must balance their diet and fluids: they must not have their bladder and stomach full without depriving themselves of energy and nutrients.

Focusing on the operation

Since their studies in medical school, surgeons have adapted to standing for several hours. Their body clocks and rhythms are also well adjusted for surgeries that take several hours.

There are times when surgeons will not feel the need to pee or defecate. For example, neurosurgeons look closely at microscopes in handling thin brain tissues.

What should surgeons do after peeing?

Now, you know what surgeons do when they need to pee. They may entrust the operation to their fellow surgeons and staff.

The team may schedule a relief time if the surgery is lengthy. Depending on the operation, the surgeons may have the brief opportunity to pee (especially in transplant operations).

But what do surgeons do if they would leave the operation room and visit the restroom to pee? They have to “break the scrub”: surgeons must repeat all sanitary procedures before returning to the operating room.

Preventing contamination

Hospitals are hotspots for bacterial and viral infection—more so the hospital restrooms. Although these restrooms are cleaned regularly, they are splattered with infectious body fluids from sick patients.

Surgeons must think about the patient and strictly prevent contamination in the operating room and the sterile field. There must be no opportunity for harmful bacteria and viruses to enter the patient’s wound.

During the operation, surgeons must have no open wounds, cuts, or cracked skin because this can allow infection and exposure to microorganisms.

Surgical handwashing

The Five Stages of Hand Hygiene released by the World Health Organization orders all physicians to wash their hands before touching a patient.

This standard is even more relevant for surgeons in the operating room.

Surgeons wash their hands thoroughly to kill all germs on their hands. Since the patients’ lives are in the surgeons’ hands, so is their death if their surgical wound is infected.

Before washing their hands, surgeons remove their watch, jewelry, rings with stones, and fading nail polish since bacteria can reside there. Organisms and dirt can also stay in long nails, so surgeons trim them too.

For over a minute, surgeons will clean their whole hand, wrist, and arms. They use warm water, antiseptic liquid soap, and antimicrobial sanitizer.

After washing their hands and arms extensively, the surgeon will dry their hands before proceeding to the operating room.

By doing these, surgeons protect the operating room, the tools, the personnel, and the patient from any risk of infection and contamination, especially after peeing.

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