Every modern operating theatre is fitted out with state of the art technology to assist surgeons and their support-staff to perform surgeries with optimum efficiency. With an increasingly stretched healthcare system in Australia, many hospitals are implementing cameras into their operating theatres as another way to streamline the surgery process.

Transmitting and recording live video of surgeries or other medical procedures gives greater visibility to surgeons leading to increased confidence and precision and therefore improved patient safety. It can also prevent crowding within the O.R during procedures, with less staff needed in the room at any given time. Additionally, the technology can be used for tracking purposes as well as staff training and development.

While there are clearly many potential uses for this video technology in operating theatres, there are questions around where the technology is headed and where the best solution lies.

HD vs 4K

As the name implies, 4K refers to the horizontal resolution of 4000 pixels – four times the resolution of high definition. While an O.R would benefit from any video system, 4K technology offers a much clearer picture with a greater sense of depth. Surgeons are better able to distinguish small structures and perceive true colours which ultimately results in greater confidence during procedures.

Wireless vs Hard-wired

While there is still some uncertainty around wireless technology, more and more hospitals are adopting wireless solutions due to infrastructure and sustainability.

With respect to installation, wireless involves a much simpler installation process. Hardwired camera and video systems can be costly to install, inflexible for operation and can result in more maintenance over the long-term. Wireless systems can also be easily relocated from room to room during inevitable renovations or expansions.

Latency

In terms of video transmission, latency is a value to look out for when selecting an AV management system to integrate with your camera system. Latency is the total delay between when a frame is captured and the exact instant it is displayed on the receiving device. Latency is typically expressed in terms of time, most commonly in milliseconds or seconds. A low latency value is best, particularly within the operating theatre where accuracy is critical.  

Focus

Like any camera, focus and iris are important functions of any O.R camera system. Iris controls exposure while focus controls the lens to form a clear and sharply defined image on the focal pane.

Most cameras come with both an automatic and manual control, however some don’t. Having the option of manual focus gives surgeons flexibility with the images being transmitted to the monitor. With auto focus there is also a risk of the infrared assist beam interfering with robotics, which for the most part is not an issue outside of robotic surgeries. However, choosing a camera with both auto and manual focus options is a good way to future-proof your video system.

Integration

Within the O.R, integration refers to functionally connecting theatre lights, audio-visual equipment and other equipment to a central console. An integrated O.R over a non-integrated O.R means the surgeon or circulating nurse no longer needs to navigate the room during surgery; able to access devices from a central control station.

As mentioned earlier, an integration system with low latency is best to ensure your images are being transmitted promptly. It’s also important to source a system that is scalable and vendor neutral for future-proofing.

 

4K camera systems are set to be the next standard technology adoption in operating theatres in Australia. With more and more options available on the market, it’s important to do your research and find a solution that not only meets the needs of your O.R today, but into the future.

READ MORE on O.R light and camera systems.