What is a surgical display?

A surgical display is a medical-grade monitor designed for use in the operating room. Surgical monitors are usually used during image-guided surgery, e.g. endoscopy or interventional radiology. Surgical displays can also present critical patient information, such as PACS images and vital signs, during surgery.

Types of surgical monitors

Surgical displays ensure real-life presentation of the patient anatomy. Especially in image-guided surgery, it is vital that images are rendered instantly, without any delay. This ensures better hand-eye coordination for surgeons, because what they see on the screen matches what happens in real time. 

Surgical monitors come in various shapes and forms. They range from near-patient displays to large-screen OR displays. Especially in interventional radiology, other types of surgical devices, such as user interfaces, touch displays, and control displays can be deployed. They are designed to manage and control a variety of imaging systems and images.

modality setup

Control panel and displays in a surgical control room 

Surgical user interface

shoot at Värnamo Hospital OR, Sweden 2017 by Beeldcollectief

Large-screen OR display and endoscopy display

From Full HD to 4K

4K resolution, which is four times the resolution of Full HD, can further increase the level of detail shown on the screen. It allows clinicians to see more anatomical detail and more clinically relevant information. 4K not only brings higher resolution to the screen, but also a wider color gamut in which black is black – which leads to more detail-rich, color-correct images for better observation of fine tissue types and structures, such as blood vessels, nerves... 

Depth perception is crucial too. With 4K resolution, surgeons will experience a wider spectrum of color, with more contrast, and a higher level of detail, resulting in increased depth perception. Perception of depth creates a more immersive environment, allowing surgeons to focus entirely on the surgical procedure and to operate more precisely.

Factors that affect image quality

Display luminance is critical. Via backlight stabilization, image brightness can be consistent over time. Special medical display technologies can eliminate image artifacts and noise and ensure that moving images are always in focus.

Local contrast is also important. An integrated look-up table ensures accurate viewing of DICOM X-ray images in the OR and prevents over-brightening of dark areas. 

A wide color gamut and making sure that there is no color shift off-angle, i.e. when a surgeon is not standing directly in front of the display, are other key factors in maintaining image quality. 

shoot at Värnamo Hospital OR, Sweden 2017 by Beeldcollectief

Surgical monitors are the eyes of the surgeon during image-guided surgery. Best-in-class image quality provides surgeons with the right depth and color perception to enable safe and efficient procedures.


Hygiene is extremely important in the operating room. Surgical displays have been designed to prevent the spread of contaminants. They come with features for vent cooling, eliminating the need for fans, and allow for easy cleaning and disinfection.


Some surgical monitors come with an automated failover feature to ensure a backup signal at all times. This means that, in case of a technical failure, surgeons and operating room staff will continue to see all critical information needed during a surgical procedure. 

Most surgical displays have been designed to reduce clutter in the operating room. They can be mounted onto surgical arms or booms, cables are neatly hidden, and the screen is usually scratch-resistant. All surgical displays should have the required medical certifications in order to be certified as a medical display.

Video integration

Surgical monitors can be managed via a video integration system. Some surgical displays even come with integrated adapters to enable conversion and streaming of video signals via the integration system.


Surgical displays provide surgeons and clinicians in the operating room with critical information, such as endoscopy images, surgical feeds, brain activity, vital signs, X-rays, patient data, and much more. The image quality of the surgical monitor is crucial as it affects a surgeon’s hand-eye coordination and hence the outcome of surgery. A medical-grade design is a must as it safeguards hygiene and safety in the operating room.