German hospital uses Microsoft technologies to create an intelligent operating room

Physicians from all over Europe have been coming to Siloah St. Trudpert Klinikum — a leading hospital in Pforzheim, Germany — to learn a special procedure for kidney-stone removal from the man who pioneered it in the late 1990s. Dr. Sven Lahme, head of the hospital’s urology department, regularly teaches visiting physicians the use of endoscopy and ultrasound to remove kidney stones through a tiny incision. Demand for these demonstrations is so great that the hospital sought to devise a new way to teach the technique at Siloah St. Trudpert — and beyond.

“We’re internationally renowned for our pioneering work in urology, and for developing new techniques for lifesaving endoscopic surgery,” says Lahme. “We wanted to create a digital operating room that would allow us to train more surgeons through real-time video transmission of surgeries, including ultrasound and X-ray images.”

In 2010, when the hospital began new construction for the urology department, Lahme seized the opportunity to upgrade the operating room system to enable higher-quality image transmission and integrated control of surgical equipment. Richard Wolf, a leading provider of medical instruments and endoscopic equipment and a longtime technology partner for the hospital, built the system using Microsoft’s Windows Embedded because it can easily integrate new devices and data sources without requiring significant changes to the underlying platform.

The hospital’s operating theater now features an integrated solution that connects endoscopic instruments, images from X-ray or ultrasound, and room controls. Dr. Lahme and his team can relay a surgery to an audience of physicians, whether they are in an adjacent observation room or on another continent.

  • The control center, called the core system, features a touchscreen interface based on Windows Embedded that enables clinicians to control surgical instruments including endoscopes, wires and pumps; ultrasound and X-ray images; and controls for lighting and audio. The core system provides a comprehensive overview of the patient’s condition, enabling greater precision during surgery.
  • The surgical team can stream medical images and real-time video from the endoscope or a ceiling-mounted video camera to multiple workstations in the OR and to physicians observing the surgery.
  • The core system connects to a Windows 7 Professional-based documentation solution, making it easy to save images to the patient’s record using the standard Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine medical imaging protocol.

Because the system provides a unified interface for all the instruments and components, it’s also easier for the clinicians to use, which means they can focus on perfecting their surgical techniques rather than on managing the different pieces of equipment.

“Our aim is always to provide excellent patient care. We might spend the same amount of time that we did 10 years ago, but the treatment is better,” Dr. Lahme says. “We have capabilities that we didn’t have before.”

The system can accommodate other Windows-based instruments, which could make it possible to manage additional elements of the operating environment — from the height or angle of the operating table to the room’s lighting and temperature — through the touchscreen interface. The core system could also be used to control equipment and settings for similar procedures, such laparoscopy or robotic-assisted surgery.

“With a solution from Richard Wolf and Microsoft, we can give a detailed presentation of a procedure in our own department, assisted by nurses who are very familiar with the techniques,” Dr. Lahme says. “As a result, participants learn a lot more.”

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Microsoft News Center Staff