Operating room lighting: features, lamps and electrical safety

In hospitals there are multiple risk areas. But perhaps the most tense and critical moments are lived in the operating rooms, scalpel in hand, under the light of powerful lighting and trying to save the life of the patient on the stretcher.


With this backdrop, it is essential to guarantee optimal lighting in the operating room, as it is one of the fundamental elements for doctors to be able to carry out their work in a medical setting with guarantees. From ETKHO, with this article we want to highlight the importance of lighting in the operating room, its characteristics, types of surgical lamps and electrical safety systems.



the importance of the operating room lighting


When speaking of operating rooms, most people think of the operating table, instruments, doctors, assistants … However, operating rooms are made up of three structures, depending on the potential for control and generation of contaminating particles:


  • Unrestricted section or black area. It is the first buffer against pathological agents. Here are the doctors who wear a gown and the material that has not yet gone through the disinfection process. There is no access control and it is where we find offices, bathrooms and dressing rooms as well as the surgical reception or admission area.


  • Semi-restricted section or grey area. From this section, doctors can access only with surgical clothing. Here are the surgical washing areas, anesthesia room, recovery rooms, septic area, etc.


  • Restricted section or white zone. It is the cleanest and most aseptic part of any operating room. It is always closed, access is absolutely controlled and only surgeons and assistants can enter, always wearing surgical clothing. This is where the operations are performed and vitally important teams such as the person in charge of distributing medicinal gas are found.



Basic aspects of operating room lighting

In addition to the access control, cleaning, etc. that operating rooms require, we cannot forget the lighting either, since a well-lit intervention table is a basic element so that the surgeon can perform the operation in the best conditions. Read on to find out what are the basics of operating room lighting:


  • The light from the lamps should be white since in the operating room the doctor needs to be able to observe the color of any organ or tissue since this is an indicator of the patient’s state and health. In this sense, if a different color from the real one is seen due to the lighting, it could cause complications in the diagnosis or in the surgical intervention itself.
  • The more electric current, the more intense the light.
  • The luminaires must be easily manipulated, that is, the mechanical adjustment to change the angle or position lamp can be carried out quickly and easily, without complicated maneuvers since in one operation the focus of attention must be on the patient.
  • Do not generate infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) radiation as it can cause damage or injury to the body tissue that is exposed during the surgical operation. In addition, it also causes heat in the neck of the medical team.
  • Easy accessibility and maintenance.
  • Offer an intense light directed but that avoids the minimum visual fatigue and does not cause eye fatigue to the doctors and assistants.
  • A light that does not generate shadows and that focuses on the area of ​​surgical intervention.
  • Luminaires, especially those located on the ceiling, must be compatible with the air conditioning system in order to control contaminating particles.


By the way, did you know that the color of the walls and surfaces of the operating rooms has a specific purpose? They are always light blue-green because it is the complementary color of red (the color of blood). In this way, that blue-green of the operating rooms avoids what is known as a successive contrast phenomenon, which allows people who participate in the intervention to rest their eyes when they take their eyes off the operating table.



Types of surgical lamps


Halogen surgical lamps

They are made of halogen gas and quartz glass. They are incandescent and offer a very bright and intense white light. For years, they were the best operating room lighting on the market. It is the closest thing to the traditional incandescent lamp that people used at home. 

Among the advantages, it stands out that the higher the electric current, the greater the illumination and, therefore, a sharper image for the vision of the operating table on which the surgeon and all the medical team work. Another point in favor of this lighting is that it reduces energy consumption.

Regarding the disadvantages, halogen lamps raise the temperature in the area where they are used and they can also suffer untimely blackouts, which is a risk for patients and a problem for surgeons who can sweat or, even worse, lose, although for a short time, the lighting of the area.


Halogen surgical lamps for operating room lighting


LED surgical lamps

The LED lamps (Light Emitting Diode) offer intense white light without shadows, thus offering optimal lighting in the operating room for the work carried out by surgeons and their assistants.

Its operation revolves around the diode, which distributes the flow of electrical current in one direction, so that electricity is used much more efficiently to achieve powerful lighting in the operating room.

Like halogen lamps, the light is more intense with more electric current. However, LED lamps do not generate as much heat. Another virtue of this type of surgical lamps is that they can be touched by hand without the risk of burns. All these advantages offered by LED operating room lamps facilitate safety and comfort in the operating room.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the useful life of LEDs is between 30,000-50,000 hours, whereas in halogen lamps it is usually not more than 1,500-2,000 hours. In addition to being more durable, LED lamps have low electrical consumption. Therefore, despite being more expensive, their effectiveness compensates the cost.


LED surgical lamps for operating room lighting



Electrical safety in the operating room

Once we have optic lighting in the operating room, another aspect that we cannot ignore is the electrical security inside the surgery room. Thus, having a good design of the electrical system will ensure that both the surgical installation and medical specialists are prepared before any complication due to a power outage or any other problem of this type.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies are a good example to guarantee electrical safety in the operating room. But special attention must also be paid to continuity in energy flows and compliance with international technical standards.

At ETKHO, as specialists in all types of products, services and equipment for electrical safety in the operating room, we can analyze the state of electrical safety of all types of health centers (hospitals, operating rooms, clinics, medical units, etc.) and offer you advice.


Power emergency supply unit for surgical lamps for operation room lighting


The result of an operation depends on many factors that go beyond the condition of the patient, the medical equipment or the instruments. At first glance, more “secondary” aspects such as optimal lighting in the operating room also guarantee that work on the operating table can be carried out with all the guarantees. Therefore, it is important to know the different types of operating room lamps (halogens or LEDs), their advantages and disadvantages and, of course, to ensure electrical safety in the operating room.

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