The operating room – a control center

Released September 18th, 2009

There has been a paradigm change in surgery. The KARL STORZ comprehensive concept for a specialty OR at the International Reference and Development Centres for Surgical Technology (IRDC) seamlessly integrates the operating room into the complete hospital workflow. From patient check-in to follow-up examinations, this system manages all data streams to benefit individualized and safe treatment. Medical information channels converge in the modern OR units. In addition, the high-tech center is a logistics interface. Personnel, OR technology and consumables are coordinated here.

“As soon as a patient first enters our facility, patient-specific information, such as blood test results, prior diseases and intolerances, are available on our mainframe computer. Connected physicians can transfer the information online,” reports surgeon Dr. Gero Strauß, director of the IRDC. This new high-tech hotspot combines a research, development and training center for surgical technologies with a hospital. Minimally invasive procedures in ENT, orthopedics, pediatric surgery, neurosurgery and urology are performed at this facility. Electronic patient records automatically store all data, such as high-resolution CT and MRI images, digital prosthesis geometry, nerve conduction analyses and electronic atlas data – as well as current diagnoses. “This ‘mountain of data’ is analyzed in our OR system, and the wealth of information is linked together and rendered useful.”

Examinations in the treatment room are recorded in the Full-HD standard. A high-performance computer permits three-dimensional virtual endoscopy of areas such as the nose, ear or throat. Using the images, the surgeon can perfect surgical preparation and explain the exact surgical strategy to the patient. All information comes together in the KARL STORZ Surgical Cockpit™. It represents the surgeon’s control center and the heart of the KARL STORZ comprehensive concept for a specialty OR. The reference center in Leipzig integrates the products and prototypes from the surgical automation realm made by the well-established company KARL STORZ from Tuttlingen and those made by its partners – such as MedPlan Engineering, KLS Martin, Trumpf, Zeiss and Siemens Medical Enterprises. As a world-wide novelty, a complete ENT surgery treatment unit by KARL STORZ can be viewed at the IRDC.

“The OR concept becomes a true assistant to the surgeon. The parameters significant to the procedure are linked in the highly precise planning and control unit of the Surgical Cockpit and are processed for use by the surgical navigation system,” explains Gero Strauß. “Surgeons can identify optimal access routes to the millimeter and test and discuss them with other specialists even before the actual day of surgery.”

During surgery, the high-tech tools indicate specific information on position or direction. A warning system is an additional safety aspect. If the surgeon enters critical areas, the computer emits a signal and turns off. This can protect delicate tissues, such as nerve tissue. For this purpose, cameras continuously monitor the position of all surgical instruments. The respective coordinates are programmed into the navigation system by the surgeon prior to the procedure. Particularly delicate procedures benefit from newly developed micromanipulators. These optimize the movements of the human hand and render human fine motor function even more precise. Additional devices guide the endoscope, leaving the surgeon’s hands free to perform additional tasks.

“However, the OR has also been completely reorganized. All equipment is suspended from the ceiling; the surgeon’s workstation is similar to a pilot’s cockpit,“ explains Gero Strauß. “Despite all this high-tech equipment, everything looks neat and tidy. The technological equipment and 30 kilometers of cable are well concealed or installed outside of the OR. The team enjoys complete freedom of motion.”

Various monitors display video images, such as those transmitted by an endoscopy camera in Full HD quality from the inside of the body. During surgery, the “digital assistant“ only presents truly important data automatically. However, the surgeon can have it display additional details at any time. If desired, surgeons can establish a video conference with other specialists to obtain their opinion. The equipment can be operated through an integrated speech and gesture recognition system or through touch screen interfaces. Specific checklists in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines facilitate surgical procedures.

Not unlike a flight data recorder, a black box records the course of surgery; a camera continuously follows every action. From the preoperative findings to the therapy results, this documentation system stores all data – including audio recordings, pictures with comments, and videos in Full-HD quality.

The patient, surgeon, treatment process and the complete OR environment are part of a smooth logistical system. This system monitors the life cycles of instruments and ensures optimal scheduling and instrument management. From the very beginning, this ensures that each scalpel and medication as well as personnel are at the right place at the right time.

The KARL STORZ comprehensive concept for a specialty OR also includes a multi-media system that can be accessed from the patient’s room. Even some of the patient records can be accessed from there. In addition, the patient receives an automatically generated electronic surgical report when discharged. If desired, this report is also sent to the referring physician. This record replaces the traditional discharge letter and includes a step-by-step explanation of the performed procedure using text and images.

“Surgery starts at check-in and ends with discharge. The OR is not an island, and the surgeon is part of an overall process,” emphasizes Gero Strauß. “Many existing solutions consist of partially incompatible components. Harmonized technological equipment relieves the OR team from routine tasks. The surgeon is able to work better and more reliably than before.”

For additional information, please visit

For questions and appointments for interviews, video and foto sessions, please contact:

PD Dr. Gero Strauß
Direktor IRDC
Käthe-Kollwitz-Straße 64
04109 Leipzig
Fon: +49 (0)341 – 33 73 31 60
Fax: +49 (0)341 – 33 73 31 63

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