A fully functional OR leveraging technological advancement not only addresses growing complexities in diseases but also enhances efficiency of surgeons is finally understood.
The operating room (OR) is getting smarter, more effective, and a lot less risky for patients. Hospitals are investing in new devices, designs, and digital technologies that promise a new era of innovation for surgery. The moves are part of a growing shift away from traditional open procedures that involve big incisions, lots of blood loss, and long hospitalizations. They point toward a future where more patients can choose minimally invasive outpatient surgeries, with faster recoveries, fewer complications, and less pain and scarring. These new technologies cover a range of advances. With some, surgeons can control robot cameras with eye movements as they move into patients’ bodies through tiny incisions. With others, doctors can create a GPS-like map projected onto a patient’s body to virtually see inside the anatomy before an operation, track their surgical tools and help them operate more precisely.
A technologically savvy market
ORs are one of the most critical areas of a hospital. The crucial components of an OR a decade ago were surgical lights, simple operating tables, and critical surgical devices. However, there has been a significant transition, thanks to technology adoption in modern hospitals. Some of the latest trends in operating rooms include:
Smart lighting design. The introduction of a wide array of medical imaging devices in the operating room poses a challenge with standard lighting designs. There is the risk of glare and eye strain for the surgical team. Similarly, there can be reduced visual acuity in the event of too much reflectance in a hybrid OR setting. Surgical lighting design has now shifted to dimmable mobile fixtures that can be moved in and out of the operating space. Modern OR lights also come with added features such as built-in cameras with video recording abilities.
Where a third light is needed, most surgeons switch to surgical headlights. They have advantages such as lower heat emission, easy mobility, and hands-free adjustment.
Powered surgical tables. The constant demand for advanced operating tables by healthcare facilities globally led to the introduction of powered surgical tables including electric and battery-powered tables. The powered tables have been instrumental in offering improved ergonomics to surgeons globally and has led to ever-increasing demand. Offering different modes including tilt, traverse, slide and other functional options for movement and positioning of the patients, is a major reason for the dominance of the segment in the global operating tables market in 2020. With development and innovation in the medical industry, operating tables are being designed according to patients’ need and usage. As the surgical methodology is turning out to be more specialized, it has become the centerpiece of the operating room. Robotic surgeries are on the rise, and the result is likely to lead to increased demand for specialty operating tables.
Apart from developing specialty operating tables, the use of anti-microbial coating over mattresses is also a trend observed to carve a niche. Many manufacturers are focusing on the quality of operating tables, using an anti-bacterial and anti-rusted surface with ions of silver to ensure maximum hygiene and prevent cross-contamination over the surface.
Hybrid operating rooms. A hybrid OR is a surgical space designed with the latest medical imaging and interventional devices. The combination of powerful imaging devices makes it possible to carry out complex procedures, many of them minimally invasive or non-invasive.
New imaging devices, including CT scanners, MRI scanners, and fixed C arms enable the visualization of microscopic body parts such as thin blood vessels in muscle tissue. State of the art equipment allows for complex procedures such as image-guided surgery operations.
The accuracy of non-invasive procedures stems from evidence-based surgery concepts. The devices collect data in the form of intraoperative scans, which helps guide the surgical team’s decisions.
Internet-connected devices. The internet is now a common feature in the operating room in order to support the aforementioned technologies. Faster internet connections have been introduced not only for video conferencing and teleconsultation but also for data exchange between devices.
The result is an improvement in collaboration and better patient outcomes. Standardized IP networks also help to eliminate cable entanglements and enable faster connection of medical devices.
Technological advancements have had several positive changes in the operating room, including increased surgical accuracy, safety, and better patient outcomes. Adopting these trends can also improve the overall performance of your healthcare organization.
Robotic surgery. Automation has taken over most operating rooms today, and hospital managers cannot afford to ignore this trend. The adoption of smart devices in the theater room can help improve workflows. Robot-assisted surgeries are popular in prostatectomies, gynecologic surgical procedures, and cardiac valve repair. Robotics helps to improve precision in minimally invasive surgeries. The result is less pain for the patient, minimal loss of blood, and faster healing time.
The future for this trend is uncertain, though, as there is still controversy over the safety, expenses, and the training needed for robot-assisted procedures.
Voice recognition OR programs. High tech devices and monitors in the OR used to be touch-controlled, but that is quickly changing too. Most hospitals have moved to acquire voice-controlled surgical technology that works more efficiently – and it is also a safety improvement trend. OR’s need to be sterile spaces free of pathogens that otherwise may imperil patient safety. Controlling devices without touching them helps to reduce the risk of contamination. The surgical team can use speech to control lights, for instance, or zoom in and out on the imaging devices, and change the content on display.
Speech recognition in OR devices improves patient function because the surgeon is free to concentrate on the task at hand. Surgical team’s workflow is systematized, and nurses can focus on essential things in the theater room.
Made-to-order instruments. Surgical procedures are not the only parts of the OR going digital. Rapid advances in 3D printing – where layers of metal or polymer materials are deposited on top of each other to create complex designs – could soon change how surgeons get tools in their hands. Today, hospitals must order and stock surgical tools from distant manufacturers in a process that is often wasteful and inefficient, because specialized tools come in kits that can contain instruments the surgeon does not need. But researchers are pushing forward with ideas to 3D print instruments on-demand with no stockpiling, shipping, or unwanted kit components.
Adaptation is key
Of course, many technologies are still in development, and others have yet to be widely adopted or fully evaluated for safety and cost effectiveness. As the landscape of medical technology evolves, hospitals will adapt to whatever innovations may come.