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Smooth operations: How AV over IP is revolutionising surgery

Feb 19, 2019

During surgery, operating room staff and systems must work together seamlessly to ensure optimal patient outcomes. But now they are turning to AV over IP to help operating rooms run more smoothly for better outcomes for all.

It’s no secret that audio-visual technology is making inroads into every sector. In fact, results from the Integrate Audio Visual Industry Report 2018 show that 95 percent of respondents predict AV/IP to have a big impact over the next five years.

While the benefits are evident in every sphere, in the healthcare sector – which accounted for 18 percent of the report’s respondents – smart use of AV has the potential to save lives. This is perhaps most evident in the operating room (OR).

Smooth operators

In bringing together multiple disciplines and technologies, the OR requires thorough integration to ensure everything works seamlessly, explains Bruno Debonnet, Product Manager of Surgical Imaging at Barco – one of Integrate’s exhibitors.

He notes that surgery increasingly involves minimally-invasive procedures – a change that has been made possible by advances in medical technologies and instrumentation such as endoscopic cameras and surgical displays. “In those procedures, the endoscope combined with the AV solution and the surgical display can be considered an extension of the doctor’s eyes,” he says.

While early solutions used a lot of cables and conversion boxes – which needed significant space and were difficult to troubleshoot – new ORs are fitted out with smarter integration over the IP network, Debonnet says, helping to streamline surgical procedures.

Given that 12 percent of the Report’s respondents said AV over IP was the technology having the most significant impact on their industry, this area is poised to take off.

Here are some of the advantages in a surgical setting:


Instead of needing large amounts of cabling and complex configurations, IP solutions require just one universal cable to distribute audio, video and data across the network. “Simplicity is key,” Debonnet says. “It allows OR staff to concentrate on patient care instead of dealing with technical issues.”


OR systems need to be flexible enough to integrate new technologies, without compromising on quality.  Debonnet notes that IP is flexible, enabling it to accommodate new technologies and enhanced functionality, without the need for external converters, extenders or splitters.


Debonnet explains that in current AV systems, multiple video standards increase complexity when setting up an OR. “Changing between procedures and preferences takes time and technical ability,” he says.

“Video integration over the IP network is much more transparent – there’s only one common standard – making it easier to switch between procedures and devices and reducing the risk of error.”

4K imagery

IP integration is more capable of handling 4K imaging technology in the OR, with no cable length limits and no transmitters needed for distances over 30 feet (9 metres).

“When working with multiple video signals – which is usually the case in the OR – high-end IP systems (like Barco’s Nexxis OR-over-IP platform) can handle this variety seamlessly,” Debonnet explains. “It means HD and 4K can be mixed without downscaling the signal to allow it to pass through the network.”


With demand for surgery rising and procedures becoming more complex, the OR stands to benefit from technologies that improve workflow and boost collaboration. “IP-based integration allows for the instant sharing of content anywhere in the OR and even amongst operating rooms, as well as across different specialties – building collaborative relationships between peers to share medical expertise and improve the delivery of care,” says Debonnet.

Remote capabilities

IP integration in the OR offers remote management capabilities with huge benefits, including the possibility to install, monitor, troubleshoot and upgrade even complex configurations without entering the room, Debonnet notes. Video can also be distributed to remote locations – such as other hospital sites or training centres for consultation and education purposes – or recorded for documentation and research.


Debonnet notes that future ORs need to be flexible enough to accommodate innovative technologies without needing to shut down for upgrades. “IP technology supports easy modification and expansion as imaging technologies and techniques for general, minimally-invasive and interventional surgery evolve.”


All these benefits add up to economic gains for the hospital, Debonnet says. “Research done by independent healthcare consulting agency HICT revealed that the overall investment cost for an IP video integration solution is significantly lower than for comparable AV systems.” This is especially so when taking into account other costs, like energy use, modifications, disruption and training.

Future trends

Debonnet suggests that incorporating smart software with AV over IP could improve surgical procedures. For example, an imaging solution could automatically detect anomalies in a procedure and notify the surgeon about them, or allow image-guided surgery in real time.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder 14 percent of respondents in Integrate’s industry report thought AV moving onto the IP network was the most important trend for the next 12 months.

Discover all the innovations in AV and collaborate with others in the industry at Australia’s premier annual AV trade show Integrate, to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from August 27-29 2019. Registration is now open  – click here for free entry to this year’s event.

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