Is 4K technology right for your OR?

By Suraj Soudagar

Anatomical visualization during surgery is a fundamental need in operating rooms for surgeons to make diagnostic decisions. Even though HD cameras and images are relevant and still in use today, 4K systems are slowly but surely becoming the new standard of delivery. Though there’s a variety of 4K technologies available for operating rooms, the adoption of 4K surgical monitors and cameras has been growing, albeit slowly. Unlike the rapid transition from ancient standard-def to high-def (which was undeniably clearer), the difference between HD and 4K is more subtle to the human eye. There’s less urgency to upgrade, but we’re starting to see 4K technology gain traction in many ORs. So, it’s time to ask if 4K technology is right for your healthcare system. 

4K is certainly superior to the 1K, since you get four times the resolution of full HD. But first consider a few things before making the switch: 

  • Surgeon input. Some surgeons may already be pushing for 4K technology in their ORs. Others are totally happy with HD and don’t like to introduce changes to their routines if they can avoid it. However, 4K displays can be a big draw when recruiting top surgeons or bringing in new graduates trained in the technology. 
  • Choosing your monitor. There’s a universe of surgical monitors of varying sizes, features, and functionality. The types of procedures your surgeons do, the size screen they need, and their preferred resolution will affect the monitors you select. Read this article to learn more about selecting the right monitor for your facility. 
  • It requires the full package. Even if you purchase a 4K surgical monitor, you won’t actually see real-time 4K video if you don’t also purchase a 4K scope, a 4K-capable camera control unit, and a networking infrastructure with enough bandwidth for the entire system. You need to be ready to go all in. If you upgrade your system but not your infrastructure it can be compared to driving a Lamborghini on two-lane unincorporated back road.  
  • Servers, storage, and network infrastructure. 4K video and images will take up a lot more space and require more bandwidth than their HD counterparts. You’ll need to evaluate your facility to see if it is currently capable or if upgrades are needed. 
Photo courtesy of EIZO.

These are just a few items to consider when evaluating the feasibility of incorporating 4K into your ORs. For more information, read “Video Monitors” and “4K Camera Systems,” two articles I recently wrote for Outpatient Surgery Magazine.  

The bottom line: 4K is undoubtedly great, and it’s absolutely going to be commonplace eventually in ORs of all types. Your task is to determine why, and when, you really need it. 

Learn about IMEG’s medical equipment planning services. 

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