Nurse, doctor & EMT dopers. What does the inside of a live human body smell like?

Assuming you’ve been inches away from someone who is being operated on, and is opened up like a side of beef, what does it smell like? I’m thinking specifically of when someone is working on the area around the heart and internal organs like liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, etc.

I don’t recall any bad odors when working around the living, but I didn’t work in the main OR. The odors of the deceased are an entirely different matter, some of the post mortems in which I assisted were a test of one’s constitution.

I’ve taken apart lots of non-human critters and there is no obvious odor, other than blood. That’s assuming that none of the internal organs have been damaged prior to opening. If you cut open the stomach or intestines the odor is strong. Likewise with the bladder.

No smell in general, just blood.

Though, if the OR is using electro-cautery to stop vessels bleeding the room smells of burning flesh, which is unpleasant.

I was scrubbed in to a quad bypass, up on a stool because I had my hands in the chest cavity, and with the mask and face sheild, all I could smell was the betadine. The OR’s pretty cold, with the patient chilled down.


People don’t smell very different if you just make a cut in the skin. Either does a chicken. If you open the intestine, however, it smells like you think it would.