This article appeared in the April issue of  Surgical Products.

It’s no secret that technology is useless without a real-world application for it.
The development of products and devices designed to make it possible for hospital surgeons and staff to receive high-quality visual information in the operating room has mirrored that of consumer electronic products and devices.

“Consumer electronic devices drive indirectly many improvements in the surgical markets,” says Paule Delaney, CEO and co-founder of digital imaging provider VizVocus.
High-definition image quality is a requirement now in many operating rooms. Technology now makes it possible for a higher level of brightness, standardized color response, 3D technology, and the ability to view multiple images in one display.

Surgeons and staff demand more than performance, though. Flexibility and ease of use are critical characteristics of products meant to improve visualization in the OR. Furthermore, those medical professionals that rely on this technology need and want the components in the imaging chain – from the endoscope through the camera, image-capturing device and through the monitor – to maintain a high level of quality.
According to Jens Ruppert, vice-president and general manager of NDS Surgical Imaging’s Surgical Business Unit, it is imperative for operating rooms to use high-quality digital video formats and avoid downscaling or converting to analog formats because it can result in signal attenuation and poorer image quality. This is necessary in order to ensure the most accurate clinical diagnosis and best patient outcome.
Delaney adds that the there has been a trend toward embracing integrated operating rooms with multipurpose services that includes visualization. However, she says there is good reason to proceed with caution with these types of implementations.
“With OR integration comes a high price tag and with a certain level of complexity,” says Delaney. “The integrated multi-purpose towers are designed for the hospital administration standpoint, but not designed for the day-to-day users’ perspective.”

So what do OR staff and surgeons look for from their OR visualization technology?

“Day-to-day users want turnkey, user-friendly and plug-and-play products,” says Delaney.

Digital video formats on the market today help ensure error-free data transmission from source to destination. When combined with color calibration technology, says Ruppert, it provides the consistency clinicians are looking for to make a confident, accurate diagnosis.
One example of cutting-edge technology that’s having a significant impact on many operation rooms is wireless imaging technology, designed to eliminate cables that introduce safety hazards and increase turnaround time.
Use of these technologies saves the hospital time and money, and results in a higher level of patient care,” says Ruppert.
So where’s the technology headed?
While surgeons annd other medical staff want to utilize cost-effective technology that will allow them to maximize performance and results in the OR, there is some question as to how it will evolve to meet their needs and concerns.
“Stereoscopic 3D imaging is an inevitable trend in OR visualization due to the enhanced depth perception in provides,” says Ruppert. “Each component in the imaging chain will need to evolve to support this. In addition, we see new display technologies coming over the next few years. These technologies will most likely provide better images due to increased brightness and color gamut.”
Delaney believes the technology will continue to change in an effort to accomplish this task.
“The latest consumer electronic devices boom has been ignited by a remodel of how customers perform visualization,” says Delaney. “This trend is heading full speed to the OR.”