Building a new operating room is a complex process that involves balancing needs of facility staff with construction costs, while also looking forward to future healthcare trends. To make planning and construction go smoothly, it helps to consider every possible variable at the outset of the growth process. Often, this includes an evaluation of current practices.

Evaluate the Current Operating Room

Before officially embarking on the facility planning process, it’s necessary to take stock of how existing operating room space is utilized. Are there any navigation or bottlenecking issues in the current operating room?

During this process, identify and consult with staff members to collect their feedback. This not only includes the surgery team, but also those in radiology, administration, laboratory, and beyond.

Set Goals for the New Project

What will be the focus of the new operating room? Does the facility plan to integrate or expand its imaging capabilities? Will the new space require more room for specialized procedures, which can require a larger surgical staff?

To begin the planning and design phases, several factors must be taken into account. These can easily be broken down into the room’s size, orientation and layout, and supporting systems. Further designs for accompanying spaces are also key.

Room Size

In its 2014 Operating Room Requirements Guidelines, the Facility Guidelines Institute recommends that the minimum inpatient operating room size be no less than 400 square feet. Operating spaces designed for specialized procedures generally require more staff, and are recommended to be at least 600 square feet.

Estimated Industry-Standard Operating Room Sizes

  • Small OR – 400 sq ft
  • Standard OR – 500 sq ft
  • Orthopedic OR – 600 sq ft
  • Cardiac OR – 600 sq ft
  • Neurological OR – 600 sq ft
  • Hybrid OR – 650 sq ft (Plus 120 sq ft separate control room)
  • Transplant OR – 800 sq ft

Determining the size of any operating room requires factoring in the above estimates, while also accommodating for future changes. The room will need to be optimized for the various equipment, supplies, staff, and general work flow.

Common Operating Room Equipment


  • Anesthesia Machine
  • Anesthesia Monitor
  • Video Monitors and Cameras
  • Anesthesia cart
  • C-arm
  • ESU
  • Surgical Microscope
  • EKG Machine
  • Operating Table
  • Operating Lights
  • Auto-transfusion
  • Laser
  • Forced Air Warmer
  • SCD
  • Pneumatic Tourniquet
  • Blood Warmer
  • Defibrillator
  • Case Cart / Crash Cart
  • Prep Tables
  • Back Tables
  • Specialty Cart
  • IV poles
  • Mayo stands
  • Ring stands
  • Kick buckets
  • Hazardous waste bins
  • Trash bins
  • Storage Cabinets
  • Desk / Computer
  • Linen hamper
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