The third in a series of looks at the most significant technology topics impacting the OR and influencing the future of surgery.

As is the case in any situation involving rapidly evolving technologies, purchasing decisions for the operating room need to take a number of variables into consideration. Not only is it essential to understand the patient and procedural benefits, but closer examination of the merits of the technology allow for a better appreciation of current and long-term benefits.

The next topic we’ll explore is Multi-Modality Imaging with 4K UHD.

User’s Perspective: Ultra-high definition visualization capabilities and its impact on the OR, both immediately and down the road, will depend on two dynamics; the ability of hospital and surgery center data networks to support the added transmission demands and the true level of improvement that will be realized once the investment has been made.

It’s another technology that is undoubtedly and enhancement over current functionality, but will it be worth the additional costs associated with it? Or, as broad-based consumer demand drives an increase in usage patterns for this technology in home entertainment, with the costs go down? Will the implementation of 4k UHD in monitors and visualization equipment become the norm due to widerspread adoption rates? The answers to these questions will play a pivotal role in the level of impact this technology has on the future of the OR.

It will be key for suppliers of this technology to help educate surgical staffs and facility IT managers on the demands of this technology in order to ensure it is functioning at its highest level. A failure to realize the full potential of such an investment could hurt its rate of adoption and potential patient care benefits.

Supplier’s Voice – Devon Bream, Black Diamond Video: 4K UHD has been an exciting consumer buzz for the past couple years. Consumer 4K UHD TVs are the premium purchase for the TV connoisseur despite the lack of true 4K UHD content. Why is this consumer revolution important to disruptive technologies in the OR? 

Similar to the revolution of medical imaging devices jumping from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD) during the early 2000s, the same industry wide jump from HD to 4k UHD should be expected, and planned for, in the OR.  This will be highly disruptive due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure in most ORs, required funding for the new 4K UHD platforms, and new tools to utilize the data rich content. 

However, the most disruptive challenge of 4K UHD in the OR will be the necessity to view this new format alongside, and in conjunction with legacy video formats.  Multi-modality imaging is becoming the standard for interventional and surgical procedures, which requires legacy equipment to work in harmony with emerging technologies.

As hospitals adapt to new 4K UHD devices, those devices will need to be viewed with the legacy install base of the hospital’s other equipment. No hospital will have the capital to replace all legacy devices that produce video signals that range from s-video, SDI, VGA, DVI, HD DVI, etc.  Therefore, it will be critical for hospital administrators and purchasing agents to work with vendors that have designed their platforms, and OR integration solutions, to accommodate all legacy formats as well as all evolving formats.  This is not a simple technology hurdle and hospitals need to spend the appropriate time to understand the importance of this design challenge.

To illustrate the challenge of legacy video formats co-existing with evolving 4K UHD formats, let’s walk through a typical procedure and experience the procedure from the video format perspective.

A patient is brought into a traditional interventional or operating suite. The anesthesiologist performs a video intubation, which is viewed from the video intubation scopes processor using an s-video format.  This format is completely suitable for the low resolution requirement of the device.  Once the patient is anesthetized, the surgeon inserts a video laparoscope, which is utilizing a DVI video signal displaying a current, state-of-the-art 1080p HD image. 

During the procedure a GI endoscope may be used with an SDI video format. Or a surgical microscope may be used with an HDMI video format. Or surgical navigation may be used with a 4K UHD video format. Or a mobile c-arm may be used with a VGA video format. Or PACS viewing may be required using a DVI computer video format. Or a robot may be required with a dual link SDI. 

These devices were all built utilizing video formats that optimize the devices’ singular purpose.  However, little, if any, consideration was given on how the individual device would exist in an OR ecosystem.

Hospital administrators and clinical leadership need to be mindful of these revolutionary changes which will impact their OR and interventional environments. Working with vendors and integration designers to ensure their investments are future-ready is more critical than ever. Disruption is definitely on its way!