Operating Room Line-up

Patients often do not put any thought into who will actually be in the operating room during their surgery. It may be surprising to know, that it takes a pretty large staff to perform even the "simplest" of surgeries. It is important to note that anyone present during a surgery is noted in the medical record and a patient does have the right to know who was present and what organization they are associated with.

  • Primary Surgeon- The physician who performs your surgery and is responsible for your overall care.
  • Second surgeon ("Second scrub")- A physician who "scrubs in" to assist your primary surgeon.
  • Surgical assistant- A medical practitioner with surgical training, often employed by the surgeon.
  • Surgical technician- A nurse with surgical training, often employed by the hospital to assist in the OR.
  • Anesthesiologist- The physician who is responsible for your medical care while you are under anesthesia.
  • Nurse anesthetist- A nurse who assists in administering anesthesia, usually in the operating room.
  • Scrub nurse- A nurse who "scrubs in" to assist surgeons with sterile procedures at the operating table.
  • Circulating nurse- The nurse who is responsible for non-sterile tasks in the operating room.
  • Holding room nurse- The nurse who receives patients and prepares them for surgery in the preoperative area.
  • Recovery nurse- The nurse who cares for patients in the post-anesthesia care unit after surgery.

Hill, A.J. MD, PhD. The Patient's Guide to Anesthesia. New York: Kensington, 1999.

The materials on this Web site are for your general educational information only. Information you read on this Web site cannot replace the relationship that you have with your health care professional. We do not practice medicine or provide medical services or advice as a part of this Web site. You should always talk to your health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Published: May 03, 2007
Updated: May 03, 2007