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 it from the video format perspective.
A patient is brought into a traditional interventional or oper-
ating suite. The anesthesiologist performs a video intubation,
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!
Next Level Visualization
User’s Perspective: When it comes to the rate of improvement and volume of upgrades, perhaps no single technology
has seen as much progress as OR visualization technologies.
From laparoscopic cameras to the monitors used in the OR to
the booms and displays that provide greater surgical support
to the decreasing number of cords used to transmit and share
imagery, there is no question about the positive impact these
upgrades have had in recent years.
The questions that remain for the
surgical community in looking at
potential future impacts stem from decisions on whether or not to seek the
immediate upgrade or wait for the next
improvement in six to 12 months. With
expanded 4K UHD on the horizon and
monitors that consume less space but
provide greater depth, color contrast and
definition, the decision does not center
as much around if an upgrade should
be made, but rather, when the timing
makes sense. It is easy for OR teams to
be caught between being an early adopter
for one product and potentially a laggard – due to budgetary restrictions – for
When looking forward, the impact
of these technologies could rest in
the priorities surgeons place on this