During a surgery in the operating room (OR), everyone has a clearly defined role as to what their unique contributions will be for the procedure.

The surgical team is made up of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, a variety of technicians, physician assistants (PA), and sometimes medical residents or students who all work in harmony to ensure the best possible care and outcome for the patient.

A surgeon takes the lead with help from PAs and surgical or scrub techs, also known as first and second assists, who supports him or her.

At CTVS, we are immensely proud of our highly skilled and experienced staff of PAs and surgical techs supporting our team of board-certified cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons.

“We believe we have assembled one of the best, if not the best, group of surgical assistants dedicated to cardiothoracic and vascular care in Central Texas,” says CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Stephen J. Dewan.  “As surgeons, we could not be successful at what we do for the patient if it were not for them assisting us during every critical move or decision that we make in the OR.”

Together, the first and second assists support the surgeon throughout a procedure. Here’s a closer look at what each of their vital roles entails when working in the OR:

What is the role of a physician extender or the first assist in the OR?

Our physician assistants and nurse practitioners serve as the first assists to the surgeons in the OR and are adept at and familiar with anticipating their every need.  They are highly trained and possess extensive knowledge of both the surgical procedures being performed and all aspects of the cardiothoracic and vascular specialty fields.

Tasks that a first assist might perform in the OR include:

  • Helping to select specific equipment or instruments during the procedure
  • Managing or controlling bleeding
  • Closing up final incisions or wounds

What is the role of the second assist in the OR?

The second assist or surgical technician is responsible for managing the surgical instruments, maintaining the sterile environment in the OR, and performing other supporting tasks which might be:

  • Preparing the patient for surgery
  • Transferring the patient to and from the operating table
  • Cutting suture materials

At CTVS, our goal is to offer the most comprehensive, quality care for all of our patients through every medical team partner whom they connect with, from their surgeon to each of the essential members of our supporting staff.

For questions about any of our cardiac, thoracic, or vascular services, please visit ctvstexas.com or call us at (512) 459-8753 to schedule an appointment.

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