Archive Hot Technology 2016

4K Lights Up the OR

Will dramatically sharper detail lead to safer surgeries and better outcomes?

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


4K technology SIGHT TO BEHOLD Vessels and other structures can be seen much more clearly with 4K technology.

Remember how you felt the first time you saw high-definition TV? How you knew you'd never be able to happily settle for your grainy tube set again? If you haven't seen 4K ultra high-definition yet, get ready for that same sensation.

"When people enter the room and see it, everybody's amazed," says Miroslav Uchal, MD, FACS, FASMBS, chief of bariatric surgery at St Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla., who recently trialed a new 4K system for the first time. "They're like, what is this? It's like a big wall with a perfect image."

Still on the fence about adding 4K to your ORs? "You don't really know what you're missing until you see it," says Peter Kung, MD, FAAOS, a partner at Longview (Wash.) Orthopedic Associates and chair of the Surgery Department at St. John's Medical Center in Longview. "You see the difference immediately."

Bigger and better
With nearly 4,000 pixels (as opposed to 1,080 for high definition and 480 with standard definition), the 4K picture isn't just much clearer, it can also be much larger, without losing definition. "I was amazed by how much magnification it gave me," says Dr. Uchal. "I put my instrument inside — a long grasper with a jaw that I know is 2 inches long — and I measured the image on the screen." The displayed jaw measured a crystal clear 29 inches, he says. "So that's nearly 15-full magnification. We used to be excited to get 10."

Another example: "My assistant put a finger through the incision," recalls Dr. Uchal. "So his glove was inside the belly and (on the screen) his finger was bigger than my arm. It's really amazing."

And the image stays sharp as you change location or settings, thanks to its sophisticated auto-focus feature. "When you want to zoom in, you don't have to move closer to the structure," says Dr. Uchal. "Or if you've pushed the length of the scope to its limit, there's no deterioration of the picture."

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