Archive June 2013 XIV, No. 6

Thinking of Buying ... LED Surgical Lights

How to compare your light-emitting diode options.

David Bernard, Senior Associate Editor


surgical lighting CENTER PIECE Your selection of surgical lighting, as with your choice of operating tables, is a critical decision in equipping or upgrading an OR.

It can get confusing trying to compare your LED light options. If you're seeking to equip or upgrade your ORs with light-emitting diodes, here's help making sense of manufacturers' claims that they have the brightest, coolest, whitest, lowest maintenance LEDs, as well as a roundup of the latest LED options.

How do I measure LED light quality?
Quantifying the quality of illumination that OR lights cast over the surgical site is a good way to begin your comparison between different manufacturers' models. Light quality is communicated by way of intensity and color temperature, details that most companies readily mention in their marketing.

• Intensity (lux). The intensity, or brightness, of light depends on the strength and arrangement of its source. Illumination is most often measured in units called "lux," with a higher number indicating a brighter light. One lux equates to 1 lumen of light over 1 square meter. Direct, overhead sunlight is about 130,000 lux. Although surgical lights can reach a maximum of 160,000 lux, many products do not max out, as higher levels of intensity can create glare on the surgical site.

• Color temperature (degrees Kelvin). The color temperature of light is an indication of how accurately it shows the subject's true color. It is measured in degrees Kelvin (°K), with higher numbers representing whiter light and, as a result, more realistic color, since any tints in the illumination can affect the subject's appearance. Color temperatures of 4,000°K to 6,000°K (the range of many LED lights) approximate natural daylight. Higher temperatures than that are slightly bluer. In comparison, halogen bulbs have a slight yellow tint in their 3,000ºK range.

What else can my LED do?
As a purchase, surgical lighting is a decision that's made for the long term. Those in the market for OR lights are most often equipping a newly constructed OR or undertaking a wholesale renovation project. In either one of those situations, there's a lot of technology being installed at once, and many of the latest surgical lighting units offer more than just bright light.

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