Evaluation Background: Operating Room Tables

December 7, 2018 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluations of operating room (OR) tables, outlining the key considerations for making wise purchasing decisions. Learn how the technology is used, which specs are important, and what factors we test for. Also review our latest product ratings and ECRI Institute's data describing hospitals' interest in each vendor.

OR tables provide an elevated surface to support the patient's body during surgical procedures, stabilizing the patient's position and providing the operating surgeon with optimal access to the surgical field. Many tables offer casters for moving the patient through the perioperative area. OR tables are typically used to position the patient as needed during surgery.

In addition to allowing procedure-specific patient positioning, OR tables protect the patient from excessive manipulation, trauma, and abrasion. Some OR tables are designed to facilitate C-arm radiographic/fluoroscopic studies.

Modern OR tables have been around for decades, but manufacturers continue to add advanced features that may increase the versatility of the table. Currently available OR tables span many levels of technological sophistication, from manually controlled models, to electrically controlled ones (using line power or battery power), to models that incorporate remote controls.

Special tabletops, extensions, and accessories for x-ray and fluoroscopic procedures are also available, and their use is increasing. Using different tabletops and extensions can increase flexibility by allowing more procedures to be done on a single table, which can reduce costs and increase efficiency. Additionally, specialized surgical tables are often required for image-guided surgery (IGS), which has become more widespread. Tables specifically designed for IGS procedures frequently have carbon-fiber tabletops to avoid the imaging artifacts caused by certain metals; they also allow for precise movements and obstruction-free views of the patient.

Interest in OR automation systems—a combination of hardware and software designed to control multiple devices in the OR via a common interface—has been driven by the steady rise in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) over the last two decades. To address this, some manufacturers have begun to offer tables that interface with OR automation systems. OR tables must conform to the communication protocols of the OR automation control system to be properly networked.

Many tables also include features to expedite setup of specialized procedures. Software may be offered to convert the table to the typical positions required for certain surgical procedures; for instance, positions such as beach chair, flex, and reverse flex. In addition to standard preset positions, some OR table...

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