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Evidence in practice
Practical guide to small animal theatre practice
  1. Alison Young
  1. Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
  1. E-mail for correspondence: ayoung{at}

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Good theatre practice describes the procedures undertaken to ensure the smooth running of the operating theatre. From the beginning, it is vital for everyone entering the theatre area to work as a team for the benefit of the patient. All members of the team, whatever their role, should feel comfortable enough to alert any other team member to a potential break in asepsis and for this to be accepted and acted upon accordingly and without dismissal.

Operating theatre

Design and layout

In veterinary medicine, the design and layout of the areas within the practice or hospital may be limited and predetermined by the building structure. Operating theatres and associated rooms should be grouped together and towards the end of a building to prevent them being a thoroughfare.

Furniture and equipment

The equipment stored within a theatre should be minimal. Any equipment is another surface for dust and potentially bacteria to settle on. All equipment should be moved into position to be ready for use or close by to prevent delays in surgery. All equipment that can be should be tested before the patient is anaesthetised, and replaced if it is found to not be working reliably. Trolleys and tables made from stainless steel are durable and easy to clean. Items on wheels allow easy movement to enable thorough cleaning.



All cleaning equipment used in the theatre area should be separate from those used in other areas of the practice. At the beginning of the day and before any case enters the operating theatre all surfaces should be damp dusted with a lint-free cloth and an appropriate product. Between cases, the theatre should have all items used during the operation cleaned with a detergent and/or disinfectant and the walls should be …

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