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Great Tables Need Great Accessories
How to transform your general surgery table into a specialty table.
Lynne Ingle
Publish Date: September 4, 2008

From straps and stirrups to armboards and leg supports, surgical table accessories give you the flexibility you need to position the patient for whatever procedures you perform and imaging requirements you have. As you'll see, these accessories that clamp on, clip on or otherwise connect to your OR table provide the necessary visualization, positioning and protection of patients. The ability to attach accessories to multi-purpose surgical tables lets you stretch your capital-equipment budget instead of buying specialty surgical tables for all the procedures your ORs host. There are devices for all areas of the body and for all types of surgical procedures, all designed with the fast-paced surgical center in mind.

Most surgical table manufacturers have large selections of accessories. You can also shop accessory-only manufacturers. Here's a quick look at how accessories let you transform a multi-specialty table into a specialty table.

  • Urology/GYN. Many urology/drain accessories, primarily flexible frames and disposable collection bags that attach to all types of fluid management systems, attach with integral clamps to the rails of the table. Also available are disposable collection bags with mesh traps for brachytherapy procedures. Stirrups for lithotomy positioning range from candy cane, knee crutch and power-assist stirrups, which let you easily adjust the lithotomy and abduction positions. Many manufacturers also let you easily adjust patient position without contaminating the sterile field. The range for patient weight is from 300 pounds to 800 pounds, depending on the type of power-assist stirrups you choose, so there are provisions for bariatric patients. Table attachments are sold separately from the stirrups. Pads for stirrups are available as both disposable and reusable.
  • Shoulder procedures. Shoulder positioning devices can be manual or power devices. Be sure to consider the ease of attachment to the table for both patient and staff safety. Consider the surgical access available for either open or arthroscopic shoulder procedures. Follow the manufacturers' recommendations for patient weight, which is usually in the 300- to 500-pound range.
  • Pain and imaging. These imaging-capable extensions improve the utilization of the standard operating room table. The extensions allow C-arm accessibility for imaging and pain management procedures. A variety of pad depths are available.
  • Knee procedures. Knee holders are very physician-specific. Some new knee holders will hold the knee in place during the surgical procedure without the need for an additional assistant to do so. Keep in mind that you'll have to purchase a Clark Socket separately in order to mount the knee holder to the surgical table's side rails.
  • Hand and wrist procedures. For hand tables, consider their radiographic capability, the pad depth, weight capacity, table dimensions, integral clamp and number of legs preferred. Additional devices are available for wrist arthroscopy procedures.
  • General table accessories. These include armboards and patient safety straps. Look for armboards that are easy to attach to and remove from the table. Armshields provide additional protection from injury for the patient's arm during surgical procedures. Patient safety straps come with various means for attaching to the surgical table, including snaps, hooks and Velcro. Anesthesia screens, some rigid and some malleable, mount to the surgical table. Review how easy it is to attach and remove these screens.
  • Bariatric. You can increase your table's width and weight capacity with these attachments. Keep in mind that when more than one accessory is used to support a patient's body part, the overall rated load will be that of the weakest accessory in the system or the surgical table to which it is applied. Also, pads made of gel and other modern materials decrease the potential for skin lesions resulting from friction burns and pressure injuries.

Try before you buy
The old adage to do a clinical trial before purchase applies to surgical table accessories, too. They can be a large budget item, so it's important for the staff and physicians to trial the item for ease of placement on a surgical table and ease of patient positioning for the surgical procedure.