Key to establishing the patient component of the sterile field is the surgical draping technique utilized and most veterinary surgeons have been trained in a simplified draping approach.
Vet Surgery ‘Four Square Draping’
Generally, veterinary surgical draping utilizes the ‘square-off’, or as humans call it, a ‘universal draping’ technique. This technique is very versatile, and almost any sized drapes can be used on any sized patient. The downside of this technique is excessive material used (wasteful and costly) and – contemporarily – unnecessary tissue trauma to the patient.
How Four Square Draping Works
In this manner, four sterile rectangular drapes of roughly the same size are positioned on top of the patient to create an operative ‘window’ in the center. The surgical procedure is performed through this window. Those four drapes are secured to the patient by piercing through them with towel clamps into the patient’s skin (which, though prepped, is considered non-sterile) to ensure they don’t migrate into and contaminate the sterile field. (Tissue trauma created by the towel clamps is considered incidental compared to the risk of the migration of the drapes contaminating the sterile field).
As the sterile barrier has been compromised with the piercing of the first layer of draping by the towel clamps into the non-sterile skin, typical veterinary surgical training often then dictates the application of an additional single, large sterile drape over and above the four ‘square-off’ drapes. This large drape is then fenestrated, the fenestration through which the sterile surgical procedure is then performed.
Improved draping techniques
As in nearly every human surgical procedure in the US, some veterinary surgeries have moved toward a single drape or key sheet draping method. The key sheet, which is often designed specifically for a certain surgical procedure, eliminates the need for all underneath draping – the four-square drapes – and the need to clamp the drapes to the patient skin. These key sheets often incorporate additional performance features (such as less traumatic mechanisms to secure the drape to the patient, tube/cord holders, absorbent material, etc). Using any properly designed key sheet, sterile technique is greatly improved, medical waste is reduced and in most cases, the key sheet is less costly than the 5 drapes it replaces.
Accordingly, Sterile Field Pet Procedure packs are built by draping technique and patient size. Check out the options (link)