Home E-Weekly February 21, 2012

Mass. ORs Go Green, Literally

Published: February 17, 2012

Many laparoscopic surgeons like to work with overhead lights dimmed to improve the quality of images on video monitors, leaving the rest of the surgical team to work in near-darkness.

But the drawbacks of working in a darkened room go beyond inconvenience. Patient and staff safety could be jeopardized by nurses who have trouble reading medication labels, identifying needed supplies or failing to see floor-level obstacles such as cords or equipment.

According to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, however, illuminating ORs with green ambient light during minimally invasive procedures maintains image quality on video monitors and brightens the outskirts of the sterile field. They presented their study on the subject at last year's annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Green lighting improves overall ambient OR illumination without hampering the surgeon's view because of the human eye's sensitivity to green light, notes the study. Luminance under low-intensity green overhead lights installed in 2 of Mass General's ORs was 5% of the luminance measured under standard white lights, and effectively illuminated OR activities without producing glare or washout on monitors.

Mass General's trialing of green lighting proved to be so popular among surgeons, anesthesia providers and nurses that the researchers plan on extending use of the low-level lighting to 28 of the hospital's surgical suites.

Daniel Cook

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