When any little organ fails to do its job, it causes the entire body discomfort, and only then do we realize how important even the smallest components of our body truly are.
In those situations, we must head to a doctor, who diagnoses the problem and recommends appropriate treatment. Many minor ailments can be cured by taking medication, but there are many of other conditions that can only be treated when a person undergoes an operation. That’s where surgery comes in!
Surgeons often must access the internal organs of the human body. Furthermore, many problems related to organs like the heart, liver, kidneys and others require the surgeon to actually operate on that particular organ. Since these organs are inside the body, the only way a surgeon can operate on them is by making precise and appropriate cuts on the body and accessing the organ in question.
Making cuts on the body sounds like it would cause a lot of bleeding, right?
Yes, it certainly does!
The question is: how do surgeons control or prevent internal bleeding when they are operating on a patient by cutting open their body?
There are a plethora of surgeries that often result in some or even a large amount of internal bleeding. One of the most basic skills of a good (and safe!) surgeon is the ability to control bleeding while performing an operation. Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods that doctors use to prevent or control bleeding during an operation.
Making cuts in the right spot
A surgeon must know the anatomy of the human body pretty well, and as such, they make cuts along tissue planes where large blood vessels are typically missing. They try to avoid dissecting areas where a lot of bleeding can be expected to begin.
Cauterization is a medical technique that involves burning a part of the body (in this case, small blood vessels) to close off or remove part of them. Also referred to as cautery, this technique helps to control bleeding and damage during surgical procedures, and also offers a few other advantages.
Back in the day, when medical science was not as advanced, cautery was widely used to treat wounds, as it was believed to be effective on more than just one level. Not only did it help to prevent excessive blood loss, but it also minimized infections and even closed amputations!
To control bleeding from small blood vessels, surgeons use electrically-powered cauters that have a high-frequency alternating current that burns the bleeding ends and closes them off.
Doctors use clamps of varying sizes on blood vessels to prevent bleeding during surgical procedures. What they do is apply a series of clamps, and then cut between them. Clamping also helps to prevent air from being sucked into the system.
Small vessels can be identified and tied off using sutures to prevent internal bleeding. In some cases, they can even be clipped on both sides before they’re cut.
Pressure is applied either manually or through the use of machines to limit the amount of bleeding during an operation. For instance, during a laparoscopy (a technique to look and work inside the stomach), the stomach is filled with carbon dioxide gas to prevent vascular bleeding and oozing.
Using clotting agents
Complicated surgical procedures, especially those involving organs where a lot of blood loss is expected (such as the liver), will often lead to a fair amount of bleeding. Therefore, doctors often apply clotting agents to help promote clotting, which limits the amount of blood loss.
There are a number of other techniques to control blood loss during a surgical procedure, depending on the organ that’s being operated upon, but the ones mentioned above are the most commonly used and do a good job preventing blood loss during surgery.
- Stanford University
- UPMC Children’s Hospital Of Pittsburgh
- Hospital For Special Surgery
- National Institutes Of Health (NIH) (Link 1)
- National Institutes Of Health (NIH) (Link 2)