Evaluation Background: 3-D, High-Definition Surgical Video Systems

April 19, 2017 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluation of a 3-D, high-definition (HD) surgical video system, providing a summary of our product ratings, as well as a rundown of the key aspects of the technology that are critical to making wise purchasing decisions. Learn how the technology is used, which specs are important and why, what factors we test for, hospitals' interest in each vendor, costs of ownership, and more.

Surgical video systems are used to view live, color video of the interior of the body during diagnostic and therapeutic minimally invasive surgery.

Three-dimensional, high-definition (3-D HD) surgical video systems incorporate a videoscope or camera head/endoscope with two separate video channels—for example, using two "chips on the tip," with each chip having a pixel resolution of 1280 × 720 to 1920 × 1080. The two video channels capture images from adjacent positions at the tip of the endoscope. The video streams are transmitted to one or more camera control units (CCUs) and video processors, where the images are processed and enhanced. The two video streams are overlaid and displayed simultaneously on a 3-D-compatible video display. The viewer wears polarized glasses so that each eye sees one of the two video streams.

3-D surgical video systems have been commercially available since the mid-1990s, but have historically struggled with video quality and user comfort. In recent years, the systems have been made more practical by several technological improvements:

  1. Reductions in chip size

  2. Improvements in video quality, including...

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