In recent months a new paradigm has begun to emerge in surgical lighting technology based on advancements in light emitting diodes (LEDs). A light emitting diode is a small semiconductor diode that emits a narrow spectrum light. Essentially, it is a tiny light bulb that fits nicely into an electrical circuit. Unlike standard incandescent light bulbs, though, LEDs do not have a filament and therefore produce very little heat and will last as long as a standard transistor.

LED technology has been around for decades and LEDs are currently and have been widely used in a variety of consumer products. They provide the lights in digital clocks and readouts, they play an important role in remote controls and they are used extensively as indicator lights in many household items, reminding people that they left their coffee makers on and other useful tasks.

Lately, though, thanks to advances in LED technology, brighter and more powerful LEDs have been developed, allowing them to be incorporated into flashlights, area lights and now even surgical lights. While finding their original niche in the operating room in the form of surgical headlights, LEDs are now also being utilized in full ceiling mounted surgical lighting systems...and with a number of notable advantages.

As mentioned earlier, LEDs produce very little heat. The benefit of this is obvious to any surgeon who has had to work for hours on end under the oppressive glare of a halogen lighting system. In addition, LEDs do not emit UV and infrared radiation, further reducing heat and avoiding issues with patients and equipment that may be sensitive to such radiation.

TRUMPF Medical System’s iLED Surgical Light
Another advantage to LEDs is that they can produce a brightness and light color that is far easier to adjust and control than that produced by many existing lighting systems. This, coupled with the incredible long life of the LEDs makes for very cost-effective and efficient surgical lighting. Here is a look at some of the leading LED surgical lighting systems currently available to the surgical community.

LED Surgical Lighting Systems
TRUMPF Medical Systems (Charleston, SC) released their first LED surgical lights for use in the United States in Early 2006. The TRUMPF iLED 5 Surgical Light utilizes 184 white and color LEDs to create 160,000 Lux of almost shadow-free illumination. The iLED 5 offers medical facilities a host of benefits including low heat emissions, adjustable light features, a dramatically increased life-cycle and the ability to adjust color temperature. The key to adjusting color temperature is in the ability to change the ratio of white to color LEDs, thus “mixing” the desired color tone. In warm, non-glare light (about 3,500 Kelvin) skin and light tissue parts reflect less and the contrast remains intact. Colder light colors (up to 5,000 Kelvin) work better for deeper lying body areas and for longer surgeries.

Recently, TRUMPF expanded and enhanced the iLED product line. The TRUMPF lighter weight and easily adjustable iLED 3 has now joined the iLED 5 in their line of LED surgical lights. These two lighting systems can be used together to create a versatile surgical lighting system, though the smaller iLED 3 can also be used independently and has applications in surgi-centers, cath labs, ICUs and EDs. In addition, the optional TRUMPF TruVidia CCD camera, mounted in the center handle of the iLED 5, delivers razor-sharp, true-to-life video and still images.

The MAQUET PowerLED Major Surgical Lighting System from Getinge USA
Getinge USA (Rochester, NY) offers the MAQUET PowerLED Major Surgical Lighting System, which is designed to enhance the comfort of the surgical team especially during lengthy procedures by reducing infrared and heat emissions. The PowerLED delivers 30,000 hours of illumination (up to 30 times more than halogen bulbs) and requires no focusing or manual lighting adjustments. The system features 168 overlapping, identical light beams that deliver a perfectly round 8.3-inch circle of light. As a result of this design, the appearance of wall cavities is the same regardless of the position of the light head over the surgical area, even when a number of LEDs are obstructed.

The PowerLED’s thin cupola design allows the unit to be installed in any OR suite, even in rooms with low ceilings. In addition, the lighting system incorporates secondary ambient light with five easy-to-adjust illumination levels, and accommodates the addition of flat screens and cameras. For added safety, the PowerLED emits no ultraviolet light, making it ideal for UV-sensitive patients.

Skytron (Grand Rapids, MI) recently introduced their own LED surgical light to the marketplace. Their Aurora LED Surgical Lighting System features new optical enhancements that exceed traditional halogen lighting intensities without the heat, including 40 percent greater intensity and double the adjustable spot size. The Aurora’s bright, cool, high intensity optics provide comfortable and cool surgical light illumination, even for extended cases, for the benefit of the surgeons and the entire surgical team.

SKYTRON’s Aurora LED Surgical Lighting System
In addition to providing a comfortable work environment for the surgical staff, Skytron’s Aurora LED Surgical Lights offer a variety of settings and adjustment options. Surgeons can choose the optimum balance between bright, high intensity illumination and select bright white or soft white, non-glare surgical lighting for every procedure.

STERIS Corporation has also released a new LED lighting system in recent months. The Harmony® LED Surgical Lighting and Visualization System delivers an impressive 150,000 lux of pure white light to the surgical field. The LED modules are specifically engineered to provide a superior color rendering index (CRI) of 97, allowing the surgical team to see and differentiate every detail in exposed tissue with clarity, comfort and focus. The high performance lighthead is coupled to STERIS’s new HD-capable suspension, bringing high definition images into the surgical field with optimal image clarity and vivid color accuracy.

The Harmony System’s clarity remains constant with its excellent shadow reduction characteristics. STERIS’s engineers have created a custom profile LED lens that gathers and focuses light. All 84 lenses that make up the Harmony LED lighthead are meticulously fitted, precisely aimed and overlapped to achieve a tight, round pattern. So, if one or even two dozen of the LED lenses are blocked, the surgical spot remains clear and unobstructed with no distracting shadows. In addition, the Harmony LED system is available in a multitude of configurations to meet the individual needs of facilities and surgical suites.

The Harmony LED Surgical Lighting and Visualization System from STERIS Corporation
Stryker Communications (Flower Mound, TX) has integrated the revolutionary new LED technology into their existing and unique multi-reflector light design. The Stryker Visum LED Surgical Light delivers light that remains starkly cool while achieving an impressive combination of brightness, pure white color and shadow reduction.

The Visum LED remains cool even during long cases allowing for a more comfortable OR for surgeons and staff. It produces pure white light without sacrificing brightness, but also maintains the same color temperature as the brightness level is adjusted. Shadow resolving reflector technology keeps the surgical site shadow free and consistent, while maintaining a large depth of field. Stryker’s use of same-color white LEDs also prevents “rainbow” effects due to poor color mixing with multi color LED solutions.

LED Surgical Headlights
The Visum LED Surgical Light from Stryker Communications.
Enova Medical Technologies (St. Paul, MN) was at the forefront of introducing LED headlights for use in the surgical field. Their Halo™ Cordless LED Surgical Headlight is powerful enough for virtually any operating room applications. Powered with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the Halo delivers bright, cool light that provides greater color and tissue differentiation than standard headlight systems. With its cordless feature, the Halo eliminates the need to tether the surgeon to a fiber optic cable and a bulky power supply, reducing operating room logistical issues and overall maintenance for the surgical center. The Halo system is available in two models: the Halo 5000 that provides 55,000 lux of cool, bright light and the Halo 6000 that delivers 65,000 lux output. The Halo LEDs last over 10,000 hours, translating to upwards of 10 years of continuous use.

In addition, Enova Medical Technologies launched their IRIS and IRIS Ultra-lite surgical headlights in May 2007. The devices utilize the newest generation of LED illumination technology optimized for use in the surgical operating room. They have a crizal coated front lens and proprietary reflector technology that deliver light output upwards of 100,000 lux. The IRIS can be completely cordless with batteries attached directly to the headset (17 oz.) or powered with a belt pack (11 oz.). The IRIS Ultra-lite weighs less than nine ounces with a battery powered belt pack.

LuxteL, llc’s IsoLED Headlight System
LuxteL, llc (Danvers, MA) recently released the IsoLED Headlight, which has been designed for both examination and surgical use with LEDs close coupled to the optics for a uniform, focused light. The system is powered by a portable DC battery with a variable spot size of 10 to 110 mm at one meter, 700K lux of 10K Kelvin white light. Light weight on the neck and with no tether to a tower, the IsoLED ensures total freedom with six hours use per charge and full recharge in just four hours.

Another new addition to the LED healdlight market the FireFly Infinity™ LED Surgical Headlight from SheerVision, Inc, (Rolling Hills Estates, CA). The FireFly Infinity is a portable headlight that provides 54,000 Lux / 5,000 foot candles of light, outperforming many tethered fiber-optic lights and without the high maintenance costs. With ultra-lightweight comfort and superior light uniformity the Infinity is both effective and affordable. It featuring hands-free, powerful illumination and includes a lithium-polymer battery design and a smart charger. For added convenience, the FireFly Infinity fits any manufacturers’ loupes or can be mounted on a headband.

Karl Storz Endoscopy-America’s LED Headlight System
KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc. (Culver City, CA) has incorporated the latest LED technology into its comfortable, fully adjustable headlights. Delivering far more light to the operative field than conventional headlights, KARL STORZ LED Headlights provide brightness of up to 50,000 lux. The white light produced allows tissue structures to be recognized in their true colors. The luminous field can be focused, offering adjustability from 10 to 100 mm at a working distance of 40cm. With a soft, flexible headband, the headlight can provide unrestricted mobility with an integrated battery light source, making separate light sources, cables and mains connections unnecessary.