Perioperative Nursing Care

Updated: May 23

Perioperative nursing is an umbrella term that groups several nursing roles, all dealing with patients undergoing surgery.

The different roles can be divided into three, according to which stage the patient is in:

  1. Pre-operative nursing care: Before the patient goes to surgery

  2. Intra-operative nursing care: While the patient is in surgery

  3. Post-operative nursing care: After the patient is done from surgery

But before we get into the nursing role, we need to understand what surgeries are and why they are done.

What is surgery?

Surgery or operation is a form of invasive treatment. During surgery, the doctor makes an incision in the body and then proceeds to remove, repair or replace a damaged organ. So this means that surgery can be indicated for several reasons.


The most common indications for surgery are:


Curative: this type of surgery is done with the intent to treat and cure disease.

Diagnostic/ Exploratory: the aim here is to further investigate the disease. During exploratory or diagnostic surgery, the doctor will be able to determine the extent of the disease and obtain a sample of the damaged tissue (biopsy).

Palliative: such surgery is done to improve the quality of life of patients with a terminal illness. The surgery will not cure the disease but simply relieve the symptoms.

Re-constructive: better known as plastic surgery, this can be done either to improve the functionality of damaged tissues or for aesthetic purposes (to look better).

Transplant: the goal here is the replace damaged or diseased organs


How are surgeries planned?

Surgeries are often planned according to the urgency of the case. A patient who has a life-threatening condition that requires immediate surgery is classified as Emergency Surgery.

Patients who need surgery soon, but can wait a few days are classified as Urgent Surgery. While those who can wait a couple of weeks or months are classified as Elective Surgery.

What surgical specialities exist?

The American College of Surgeons recognizes  the following surgical specialities:

  1. Cardiothoracic

  2. Colorectal

  3. General

  4. Gynaecology

  5. Obstetrics

  6. Oncology

  7. Neurology

  8. Ophthalmic

  9. Oral and maxillofacial

  10. Orthopaedic

  11. ENT

  12. Paediatric

  13. Plastic

  14. Urology

  15. Vascular

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