Since the first laparoscopic appendectomy was performed in 1983, the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques has been growing. Recent research1 suggests that further adoption of minimally-invasive techniques is predicated on establishing competency.
But what does that mean practically? Surgeons want to know that procedures can be completed with the same quality outcomes as open surgery – that the benefits of minimally-invasive surgery won’t be outweighed by the reduction in vision and visibility of the patient, with subsequent negative impact on outcomes.
And that’s where technology can help. 4K displays, while becoming more commonplace in television and cinema, are now coming to the operating room. People often ask how 4K can benefit surgery, and if it’s here to stay. So here are the most frequently asked questions we hear about 4K in the OR.
What is 4K?
In essence, the term 4k refers to a display having a horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels, resulting in four times the resolution of high definition (HD).
Why should the healthcare sector be interested in 4K?
In the OR, there is a move towards minimally-invasive surgery, at least in selected, more routine procedures. There are clearly benefits to patients and healthcare systems from this type of surgery, but it means that surgeons are, to an extent, subject to limited vision due to their reliance on laparoscopic cameras…
That’s an obvious issue for surgeons – existing technology is no replacement for the surgeon’s own eyesight, and current displays, even high definition displays, lack depth and perspective.
Do 4K screens improve on high definition displays?
Absolutely! 4K offers detail-rich, color-correct images with greater depth perception so the OR team can see more detail during procedures.
For the first time, surgeons doing minimally-invasive procedures can have confidence that what they’re seeing is an accurate picture of what’s happening during the surgery, and the entire surgical team can make clinical decisions with all the information and guidance they obtain from the cameras. This is clearly in the best interest of the patient.
Who benefits from 4K?
Surgeons, surgical teams and patients can all benefit from 4K in the OR. Also keep in mind that surgeries proceeding according to plan benefit the entire health system; by helping avoid procedures running over time, or even converting from laparoscopic to open procedures. ORs can be very busy, congested spaces and efficient management of this resource is critical to the entire hospital.
We also know that minimally-invasive procedures can result in lower length of stay and fewer complications – better for the patient and again better for health systems, so new technology to support increased use of this type of surgery is a positive step for our increasingly stretched health systems.
Outside the OR, what are the applications for 4K?
4K is set to be the next standard technology adoption so we’ll see 4K being used more inside and outside of hospital settings. In fact, any hospital setting that uses a display, for example in patient wards, could benefit from 4K.
Read more about 4K in the OR:
1 Tsui C, Klein R, Garabrant M. Minimally invasive surgery: national trends in adoption and future directions for hospital strategy. Surg Endosc. 2013 Jul;27(7):2253-7. doi: 10.1007/s00464-013-2973-9. Epub 2013 May 10.