Archive December 2015 XVI, No. 12

Thinking of Buying ... Arthroscopy Imaging Consoles

They're the brains of the operation.

Greg DeConciliis, PA-C, CASC

BIO

With all due respect to the camera, shaver, irrigation pump and HD monitor that make up the chain of arthroscopic technology, the imaging console — the box on the tower or cart that manages the visuals and controls other integrated tasks — is without question the brains of the operation.

When I started out in orthopedics more than 15 years ago, you interacted with the device to arrange how many photos would print out on a page. You could input the surgeon's and patient's names, and that was about it. Now the images, both still and video, are processed and stored digitally. Cutting out the cost and labor of ink-and-paper photo printing is a big advance in itself, but the ability to wirelessly transfer captured images to your electronic health records system or to the physician's or patient's e-mail inbox is practically the standard. Our whole market is based on efficiency. How can you beat technology that gives us a sharp view of the surgical site, that lets us shoot, edit and annotate what we see there, that gives us touchscreen interfaces and pre-programmed settings?

It's not likely that you'll purchase arthroscopy imaging consoles independently. Rather, they'll be part of an arthroscopy system as a whole. That's an important consideration when selecting this type of equipment, since one way to get the biggest bang for your buck is to negotiate a bundled deal — tower, scopes, shavers, pump, disposables, everything — with one vendor. You'll want imaging technology that's easy to plug in and start using, and that can be controlled conveniently, whether that means buttons on the scope in the surgeon's hand or fingertips on a tablet computer near the field. If space is an issue in your ORs, some manufacturers have consolidated a cart's worth of camera processing and light source equipment into a single, compact unit.

Consider going previous-generation on some components, especially cameras. If the equipment you're presently using is from several years back, and the latest cutting-edge features aren't must-haves, one generation prior will probably still be a technological step up for your OR, at an economical price. As always, invest in a vendor you can trust. A solid maintenance contract, a rep who's willing to in-service your staff, and replacement components when yours need repair are worth more than you can record on a budget line.

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