Dr. Kevin Koh offers some valuable guidance on ensuring optimum surgical lighting in operating theatres. He warns that lighting choices can have an impact on patient outcomes and highlights the potential role of in vivo lighting.
Surgical lighting is one of the most critical factors in the operating room, as effective illumination is vital to provide surgeons with a clear view of the surgical site. This not only enhances the quality and precision of surgical procedures, but also increases patient safety, improves turnaround times and reduces the risk of complications and malpractice claims. Traditional options – including overhead lights and wearable headlamps – have barely changed in decades, despite operating theatres continually evolving with new surgical techniques and technologies. Innovative new in vivo illumination is aiming to bring surgical lighting into the 21st century, offering more flexible options to make surgery easier for surgeons and safer for patients. This article discusses the key considerations for selecting surgical lighting and highlights the benefits of in vivo light sources.
The optimum lighting method depends on the type of surgery being performed and the surgical site, with the main options being overhead lights and headlamps. Overhead lights are typically used during open surgery – where the surgical site is more easily accessible – and LED light sources are increasingly being used in this application. These lights can be ceiling-mounted, wall-mounted or free standing, with mobile standalone lamps being frequently used for examination purposes. One downside of overhead lights is that they may not illuminate the surgical site precisely, creating a diffused light pattern with insufficient illumination in some areas, while flooding other areas of the cavity with too much light, leading to bleaching of colours.
Wearable headlamps are now widely used in a theatre setting, and are particularly useful for deep, lateral and narrow surgical sites, as they provide bright and targeted light spots, reducing shadowing. They can be battery-powered or plugged into an external electricity source. Unfortunately, headlamps can be uncomfortable to wear, and may cause head and neck pain after long periods of use, potentially resulting in chronic musculoskeletal conditions in the long term. In addition, external cables can limit movement and become a trip hazard in an already busy environment.
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