Evaluation Background: 4K Surgical Video Systems

December 31, 2020 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluations of 4K surgical video systems, 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. 4K, or ultra-high-definition (UHD), surgical video systems offer a pixel resolution of 3840 × 2160 (4K UHD) or 4096 × 2160 (Full 4K). These systems are used with a rigid endoscope and do not provide stereoscopic images.

4K surgical video systems can be further categorized into Native 4K and Upscaled 4K:

  1. Native 4K video is acquired with a 4K camera chip, and the image is retained in 4K format throughout the video chain. This means that the camera head, the camera control unit (CCU), the cables, and the display all support 4K capabilities.

  2. Upscaled 4K video is acquired with a high-definition (HD) camera chip, and the image is retained in HD format until it reaches the video display, where it is enhanced for display on a 4K screen.

Surgical video systems have been in wide use since the 1980s, but 4K systems are a relatively recent development. The first Native 4K video system received FDA 510(k) clearance in October 2015.

Native 4K


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