The game is simple. The 'board' is laid out to represent the body of a patient lying on the operating table. The player uses a pair of enclosed tweezers to remove different small plastic body parts, from various cavities on the patient's body. If the tweezers should touch the sides of the cavity while the item is being removed, a buzzer sounds (i.e., an electrical circuit is completed) and the player loses that turn. The players with the most points (different amounts for each body part) after all parts have been removed is the winner.
The comical body parts that must be removed include:
* Adam's Apple. Worth 100 points.
* Broken Heart. 100 points.
* Wrenched Ankle. 100 points.
* Butterflies in the Stomach. 100 points.
* Spare Ribs. 150 points.
* Water on the Knee. 150 points.
* Funny Bone. 200 points.
* Charley Horse. 200 points.
* Writer's Cramp. 200 points.
* The Ankle Bone's Connected to the Knee Bone. 200 points.
* Wish Bone. 300 points.
* Bread Basket. 1000 points.
Since the game requires dexterity rather than strategy or intelligence, this game can be won as easily by younger children as by adults.
This game is available in a number of 'theme' editions, including Operation Iron Man, Operation Hulk, and Operation Doctor Who.
This game was advertised heavily in previous decades, especially the 1970's, when phrases such as "It's my turn to operate" and "It takes a very steady hand... don't touch the sides!" could be heard hundreds of times on Saturday morning televisions across the country.