Thinking About a Surgical Video Upgrade?


Visualization, image management and integration capabilities are key factors to consider.

Your surgeons can spend hours poring over data about what they need to do to ensure a superior surgical outcome, but when they actually go into the OR to operate, the crystal-clear resolution of the right surgical video system that allows them to better visualize tissue and the depth of color in the blood becomes a critical factor in their decision-making.

In order to get the most out of a video system for your facility's clinical needs, you need to know what factors to consider during an upgrade. Let's take a look at all the critical components of a surgical video system to help you decide.

Visualization capabilities

For most minimally invasive procedures, the optimal visual path requires superior resolution along the entire imaging chain, from the camera at the tip of the scope to the monitor that shows the captured images. When trialing a new video system, make sure each component is capable of transmitting or displaying 4K ultra-high-definition video, so the images captured by the camera in the surgical field are what surgeons actually see on monitors.

Dynamic response is a useful feature found on some of the latest imaging platforms. This feature automatically brightens or dims light while the surgeon is navigating within the surgical cavity. Dynamic response is similar to the technology that automatically lowers a car's high beam headlights when another car comes into view. Surgeons benefit from dynamic response on their scopes' cameras because too much light reflection can create a blinding effect. On the flip side, dynamic response automatically brightens the surgeon's view if there's too much darkness within the surgical cavity to properly navigate or identity critical structures.

Image management

Another key consideration when upgrading your video system is what type of editing, retrieval and storage capabilities are needed. Surgeons working in academic teaching institutions have vastly different requirements than those who operate in freestanding ASCs. But even surgeons in non-academic settings might want to use captured images for conference presentations or to create educational videos for other providers.

Determine how important video capture and storage are to your surgeons. One terabyte of storage capacity is generally a good starting point with 4K systems, although be prepared to expand that capacity in the future. Consider picture archiving communication systems (PACS) as an example of where we're likely headed with 4K image management. Remember when PACS was first introduced? It was pitched as a one-time investment, but facilities are continually investing in upgrades to ensure high-quality images can be stored. Capturing and storing 4K videos will require a similar level of investment, and is a whole new dimension of patient data management you need to consider.

Seamless integration

When you upgrade your video system, you're not making a one-time decision. You also need to consider your facility's future needs and create a roadmap for down-the-road decisions. Nobody knows exactly what the future of surgical imaging will look like, but from an infrastructure standpoint, you should get the right pieces in place today to plan for a high-tech tomorrow. That way, your next upgrade becomes a seamless endeavor — you won't have to rip out walls and change conduits.

Key Questions to Ask Vendors
VISUAL ASSESSMENT Make sure can meet your facility's current and future clinical needs.

When you make the major decision to partner with a company and upgrade your surgical video system, you want to work with a vendor that will show you a roadmap for growth and innovation that offers proven ways to grow your service line over the next five, 10 or even 15 years. To ensure you get this from a video vendor, ask these questions:

  • What is the compatibility with our current equipment? Ideally, you'll use the same vendor to outfit your entire imaging chain, but if not, find out if there will be any compatibility issues with the brands you already have.
  • How long will the system last? You'll need to provide the actual volume or estimated volume of your cases, but your vendor should be able to give you a sufficient answer to this question. Video technology has a life cycle that can be determined based on expected usage.
  • What type of education can you provide? Find out if a vendor can provide industry standards and best practices on using their video technology during the different types of procedures for which you'll be using the equipment. Tech-savvy surgeons tend to find useful tutorials on YouTube, but receiving quality educational content from vendors is an attractive and useful value-added service.
  • What are the maintenance costs? The initial capital costs of a video system upgrade — typically $100,000 to $150,000 for a single OR and heavily discounted the more rooms you include — are obviously the primary focus, but also drill down to ask about maintenance fees over the life of the equipment. One key aspect to find out about system maintenance: How many services techs does the vendor have within driving distance (around 100 miles) of your facility?

— Suraj Soudagar, MS, MBA, LEED AP

FREE SPACE Ensuring you have one terabyte of data storage for 4K video systems is generally a good starting point.   |  IMEG Corp.

The amount of data you need to transfer data from the latest surgical video systems to an internal network is guaranteed to bog down bandwidth and affect other systems. Standard copper wires are an inadequate conductor for large 4K images, which degrade after they pass through 300 feet of the wire. That's why I recommend upgrading your video network from copper wire to fiberoptic cables. Yes, this will require an upfront cost, but it's an investment that's well worth making because upgrades you make five or 10 years from now will truly be a plug-and-play process.With fiberoptic cables, data degradation isn't an issue.

Looking ahead

Many surgeons are closely watching the progress of 3D video. The benefits of these platforms include improved visualization, especially of hard-to-see areas, and better diagnostic and decision-making capabilities for surgeons. As bandwidth and speed issues decrease with this technology, you can expect its adoption to increase among outpatient facilities. And, just like upgrading to a 4K platform, surgical facility leaders will need to do a deep dive into exactly what their facility needs to get the most out of these systems. OSM

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