Technology at IRDC

Released September 18th, 2009

As the basis of the IRDC, the KARL STORZ comprehensive concept for a specialty OR consists of numerous, modularly designed individual components. It is the first to integrate new surgical technology into a comprehensive surgical system in this form. A glossary of the most important modules and the related terminology follows:

Imaging systems (CT, MRI, endoscopy, microscopy, PDD/AF)

The classic two-dimensional radiogram and the ultrasound are certainly still the most well-known radiological imaging techniques. However, numerous modern technologies have recently become available, such as Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Computed Tomography is a diagnostic procedure based on X-rays, in which cross-sectional images of various body parts are taken under computer control. To generate these tomograms, a fine X-ray beam is sent through the tissue layer to be examined. For the computer to calculate a three-dimensional image, the images of the respective regions are taken from different directions, and the individual cross-sectional images are combined. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, also known as nuclear spin tomography, is an alternative to CT. Its major advantage: The MRI does not use X-rays but electromagnetic wave energy. Soft tissue is visible in high resolution, even without contrast agents.

Optical techniques primarily include endoscopy and microscopy – which are also used in combination with Photodynamic Diagnostics (PDD) and Autofluorescence (AF). Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure to examine body cavities as well as channels and hollow organs - such as the gastrointestinal tract. Endoscopes are special instruments that feature illumination and telescope systems. Modern camera systems transmit the images from the inside of the body in HD quality. The 16:10 wide-screen display improves the surgeon’s orientation. Features that are invisible under regular light can be visualized with blue light using specially modified endoscopes. PDD and AF clearly differentiate even early malignant changes from healthy tissue. For this purpose, light of a special spectral composition is guided into the body through a nearly loss-free optical fiber system. With the aid of microscopy, structures on the inside of the body are enlarged such that they can be seen by the surgeon, facilitating navigation. Again, modern camera systems transmit the images in HD quality.

Surgical navigation systems

Surgical navigation systems are an important component of computer-assisted surgery. They support the surgeon’s work – but instruments are still guided by the surgeon, who controls and manages the entire procedure. The images taken and displayed by the imaging systems are the starting point for computer simulations that permit detailed surgical planning. They are used to calculate the coordinates for the exact positioning and guiding of instruments during the procedure. This technology is complemented by warning functions, which trigger an alarm when pre-set limits are exceeded and sensitive areas are at risk. In the newest generation operating rooms, the surgical instruments then turn off automatically.

Computer-assisted surgery

In computer-assisted surgery (CAS), the operator is supported by computer-controlled technology before and during surgery. The procedure is simulated in detail on the computer. CAS has been extremely successful, especially in conjunction with minimally invasive surgery. Digital image information assists in exactly locating and guiding instruments during the procedure. Important technical prerequisites included a quantum leap in surgical instrumentation and computer processing power, the advancement of optical devices, such as endoscopes and surgical microscopes, as well as improvements in imaging systems. Since planning and testing of optimal surgical access routes are central to CAS, it is particularly useful in surgical disciplines that involve hard-to-reach regions, such as neurosurgery, ENT surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery as well as spine and joint surgery.

Document management

Document management means managing various types of documents that are located at different sites to permit rapid and secure access at any time. Medical documentation primarily includes records on the diagnosis and course of therapy, patient information and any patient decisions. Modern operating rooms are linked to the electronic data management system, so that the surgeon can access all information and add or store information from the OR. Authorized medical practices that are connected to the system can also access information.

Electronic patient record

Digitally stored and electronically accessible file with all patient data such as patient history, course of disease and treatment, vital signs such as blood pressure, medications, intolerance, vaccinations, discharge letters and images generated by imaging systems.

HD/Full HD

HD stands for High Definition and describes images with high resolution. This technology is widely used in high-definition television, called HDTV. Displays featuring 1920 x 1080 pixels are considered Full HD – full high-definition.


Micromanipulators support the surgeon in delicate procedures. These devices increase the precision of relatively imprecise hand movements; they filter out natural trembling. Accurate, carefully regulated instrument movement results.

Minimally invasive surgery

Minimally invasive surgery involves conservative surgical access routes through body cavities such as throat, nose or urethra or through very small skin incisions. It is therefore also known as keyhole surgery. The development of computer-assisted surgery is closely linked with minimally-invasive surgical techniques.

OR logistics

Efficient OR management provides for the smooth integration of the operating room into logistics and hospital information systems. This permits the coordination and optimization of room availability, consumables, medications and personnel. The location of devices and materials can then be identified at any time, and the instruments’ life cycles are automatically and fully tracked.


Complete high-tech treatment unit made by KARL STORZ; it integrates surgical navigation as well as the control of endoscopic devices, room lighting, documentation, telemedicine applications, etc. Surgical procedures can be fully documented via audio and video, and videoconferences with experts or live links to lecture halls can be established from the sterile area at any time. The attachment of devices to the ceiling is another novelty and provides the OR team with complete freedom of motion. The OR is integrated into hospital logistics, data management and the hospital media system. As a result, the data in digital patient records are also available during the procedure.

KARL STORZ Surgical Cockpit™

The surgical cockpit is an ergonomic working environment for the surgeon that features plenty of freedom of motion as well as a close relationship between humans and assisting technology. All information on the patient is made available to the surgeon during the procedure, either automatically or upon request. In addition, the Surgical Cockpit integrates systems for navigation as well as for surgical planning and training on virtual and real models.

Virtual endoscopy

Virtual endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that uses images generated by imaging systems. These images are converted into three-dimensional displays. The advantage: Simulated “flights” through the inside of the body – such as the paranasal sinuses – are possible without introducing a real endoscope.

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