Archive September 2017 XVIII, No. 9

4 Game-Changing Advances in Surgical Video

New technology is providing stunning clarity and a whole lot more.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


of 4K and heads-up 3D projection HEADS UP The combination of 4K and heads-up 3D projection is revolutionary, says retina surgeon Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, seen here performing a case while wearing 3D glasses.

Unless you've actually seen some of the most stunning recent developments in surgical video, it's impossible to know what you're missing. Forget the cliché. Some pictures are worth far more than a thousand words. They're the pictures that bring anatomy into sharper relief than you've ever seen; the ones that are making surgery faster, safer and more precise; and they're the multi-source images and videos that can be routed instantly and easily from screen to screen and room to room throughout a state-of-the-art surgical facility. The practitioners we talked to can't say enough about the breakthroughs they're now seeing on an everyday basis.

1. 4K + 3D = Wow!
Retinal surgeon Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, gets to experience one big difference both at home and in the OR. "In my house, we have 2 75-inch TVs," says Dr. Schaal, the chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. One, she says, is a state-of-the-art 4K model; the other is just an old-fashioned high-def set.

Any difference? "There's a big difference," she says. "The 4K technology is really amazing."

That's true in the operating room, too, where improved clarity promises unprecedented precision. For starters, when you magnify a 4K image (which has 4 times as many pixels as high-def), you lose little or nothing in the way of resolution. That's a great feature, she says, when you're dealing with membranes that are measured in microns, and that make a strand of hair seem thick by comparison. "The image is much brighter and much easier to understand," she says.

But the real benefit of 4K comes when you combine it with heads-up 3D projection, says Dr. Schaal. Retinal surgery has traditionally been done under a microscope, where the image is flat and has only moderately good resolution. The only way to teach was to have someone sitting next to you looking through a side view of the scope and seeing the same uninspiring view.

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