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What Are the Different Types of Operating Tables?

By Terrie Brockmann
Updated Jan 29, 2024
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Generally, the type of table a surgical team chooses depends on the type of surgery; therefore, there are several different types of tables. Within each group of table styles there is a variation depending on each manufacturer's designs and innovations. For example, surgeons use fracture tables while setting broken bones or performing other orthopedic surgeries, and there are several different styles of fracture tables. There are other specialty tables, such as pediatrics tables for smaller patients and bariatric surgery tables for larger people.

As modern surgical procedures have evolved, the types of operating tables that surgeons use have changed. Although many surgeons use standard tables, specialty tables are becoming more popular. These tables often have radio translucent materials for the tabletop so that the staff can use imaging equipment. Most surgeons use an operating table that allows them to use a C-arm imager, which standard tables cannot accommodate. Other features that allow imaging equipment use during surgery include interchangeable head and foot sections and sliding tabletops.

Some surgeries, such as kidney surgery, require a special operating table. These operating tables commonly have sections called kidney elevators and cutouts for kidney draining. Another surgery that generally requires a specialized table is brain surgery. The medical profession often refers to this as a neuro table or a table with a neuro attachment.

Changing surgical procedures are not the only considerations that operating table manufacturers need to take into account. As the population has changed, designers have designed new operating tables to accommodate the changes. One of the most obvious changes is that the average patient is heavier than his or her ancestors. Bariatric tables have several advantages over the standard table, including the ability to hold heavier patients.

Like many different types of operating tables, most bariatric surgery tables have a low height. With the advancement of robotic surgery, it is useful to have hydraulic tables that can accommodate the robotic equipment above the patient. Another advantage of a low operating table is that it allows a surgeon to sit while operating. Complicated surgeries may take hours to complete, and it is advantageous for the staff to sit during the operation.

Some tables are hybrids, combining two table types into one table style. An example of this is the cardiac operating table that doubles as a cardiac catheterization table. Having the patient on the same table during the pre-operation cardiac catheterization procedure as during the cardiac surgery saves valuable time as well as reducing stress on the patient and staff.

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