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New option brings more clarity: 4K suppliers describe the tech and what it means for ORs.

First, there were high definition (HD) monitors. Then, there were innovations in three-dimensional (3D) imaging, and now 4K monitors are delivering a new level of clarify to the medical community. As per usual, these monitors were released to the consumer market first, which is where Ultra HD was termed to describe the 2160 by 3840p option.

4K monitors, which feature quadruple the resolution of the HD 1920 by 1080p monitors, were released to the surgical market last year, and manufacturers agree they bring new elements of depth and clarity to the table. Evan Krachman, Sony's product manager-new business development, said healthcare professionals have been looking at the monitors they're about to release and have commented that the improved resolution makes the image look like it's in 3D, but without the glasses.

Devon Bream, Black Diamond Video's vice president of global medical sales and marketing, said he's also seen a positive response to 4K, and added once surgeons use it, they'll understand the opportunity. "The early adopters will be able to justify the initial higher costs due to the improved work flow and efficiencies gained by viewing greater detailed anatomy, utilizing multiple modalities, and improving patient outcomes," he explained. "Without question, any facility considering new imaging platforms, and new OR integration to manage the imaging, must consider 4K."

As talk of 8K monitors starts to circulate too, Anne Bondulich, Sony's marketing manager for surgical products, said the idea is that more clarity will offer more efficiency. "Everyone in the room has better visualization of what's going on in the body, so you have your secondary surgeons and your nursing staff that can better anticipate what's needed next," she explained.

8K is still down the road, so, for now, 4K offers the highest quality the market has seen, Bream said. He added the more densely formatted pixels offer another bonus--when the screen is broken into modules to show different aspects of the surgery, each quadrant possesses the original HD resolution. This is important when it comes to routing and mapping all the clinical data, in addition to the endoscopic image, he explained.

"Doctors want to see as much detail as possible when performing a surgery or making a diagnosis," Brian Schlueter, FSN's senior marketing manager, agreed. "With all else being equal, the highest resolution possible will be the choice for medical professionals. If 4K follows the same price-decline pattern of other video technologies, then it will become more popular."

Since 4K is the newest release in imaging, it's the more expensive option on the market, but Michael Foldes, FSN's East coast general manager, pointed out it has come down in price since the technology was originally released. Schlueter added he thinks it will be relied upon eventually for the intricate and highly detailed surgeries because of the enhanced image.

Imaging Issues

Although there are benefits with any new technology, imaging manufacturers do realize the market is still adjusting. "The current drawback with 4K is the lack of signal generating devices," Schlueter said. "HD signals are now commonplace. A 4K monitor needs a 4K signal in order to show its full potential, and 4K signals are not yet common."

This includes the laparoscopic camera market, Sony specified. While there are converters that work, Krachman shared converting the image from HD laparoscopic cameras into 4k imaging doesn't always provide that authentic 4k image. There are cameras currently being developed by other manufacturers that will stream in 4k instead of it having to be converted, he said.

by Rebecca Rudolph, editor
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Title Annotation:4k Imaging
Author:Rudolph, Rebecca
Publication:Surgical Products
Date:Jul 1, 2015
Words:586
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