Green Aprons and Surgeons!

-Dr. Swathy Elangovan, M.B.B.S.
Government Medical College
Omandurar Government Estate

Surgeons always thrive in challenging environments. So when they are in action, it is important that the work environment is in their favor. The long working hours and time away from loved ones make them invincible and resilient. They need to be fit both mentally and physically.

The relationship between Surgeons and Green Aprons goes a long way. Just kidding haha.

As medicos, we would have wondered why Green aprons are preferred in the OT.

Let me try to make it simple for you.

There are many theories and research studies based on this:

The OT lights strain the eyes.

Blue-green after-images are produced against the white contrast within the operative field due to prolonged exposure to Red. (Red refers to the bloody field while white refers to drapes in the operating area or white scrubs if worn by the operating surgeon) 

The green colour is believed to have a pleasant effect on the surgeon’s eyes. This was reported in the California State Journal Of Medicine and the Green Operative Movement.

Knowing the anatomy of the human eye will help us understand this better. Our eyes have photoreceptors called Rods and Cones. Among them, Cones help us see in daylight (colour vision). They are densely packed in the fovea. The fovea is located in the center of the macula lutea, which is a small spot located in the center of the posterior portion of the retina.

They require a significantly larger number of photons in order to produce a signal. They can also perceive finer detail and more rapid changes than those of the rods

Humans have three types of cones. They respond to variations in colour in different ways. Thus, we are said to have trichromatic vision. (aka red, green, and blue)

When surgeons look at the red color (operative field) for a long time, the red cones of the eye undergo fatigue and the visual system becomes less sensitive to the region of the red colour. If they look at a white background, red receptors will respond less, and an after-image of blue-green will be produced.

If they are wearing white, they get to see the after-image. But if they wear drapes of blue-green, the after image blends in with the dress.

So it’s a universal practice to wear green or blue in the OT.

In some parts of the world, it is still a practice to paint the walls of OT green.

I guess the reason is clear now.

Kudos to surgeons who keep inspiring others and saving lives.

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