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Valley's Olympus helps to create big-screen surgery, an industry first

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An electronics industry titan and a leading global developer and manufacturer of surgical endoscopy products have developed an innovation that is giving an unparalleled vision inside the human body.

They're doing so with a 55-inch big-screen imaging system that allows entire surgical teams to have an immersive experience.

The only one of its kind in the health care industry and the first product by Sony Olympus Medical Solutions Inc. – the 2013 joint venture of Sony Corp. and Olympus Corp. – Visera 4K UHD is delivering four times the resolution of high definition and could be revolutionary. The partners say it could be used during as many as 20 million minimally invasive surgeries a year.

Last month, Olympus Corp. of the Americas of Upper Saucon Township unveiled Visera 4K's video-based surgical technology at the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons' 2016 Annual Meeting in Boston. Commercial planning, operational logistics and supply chain management for the 4K United States launch are based at Olympus Corp. of the Americas in Upper Saucon Township.

Visera 4K provides optimal visibility and clarity during surgery; the technology produces live video images on a big screen that allow the surgical team to watch and be engaged in the procedure in real time and up close.

Visera 4K UHD uses 4K resolution to deliver images with better light and a wider color spectrum, seeking to help surgeons operate with increased precision and confidence.

“The color and contrast in the Olympus 4K image provides superb clarity, unlike any operative video image I have seen before,” said Dr. Ninh Nguyen, professor and interim chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of California Irvine Medical Center and the first surgeon in the U.S. to use the system.

The only fully-integrated 4K imaging-chain available for health care use, Visera 4K UHD gets surgical personnel closer to the operating field with a big-screen display that magnifies anatomical features to deliver more visual information.

Visera 4K UHD can be used to enhance minimally invasive surgery, including in general surgery, gastroenterology, gynecology, thoracic and urology.

In 2015, the product was approved by the national Food and Drug Administration, and for about a month has been in use. So far, the feedback that Olympus has received has been positive.

“The image is so clear that I was able to see down to the capillary level,” Nguyen said.

Sony began offering 4K projectors in 2004, and it released the first 4K home-theater projector in 2012.

The 4K surgical imaging system works by a light source that passes through a camera head and a 5-millimeter telescope and is captured by the image-processing chip in the camera head. The information is passed back to the computer (processor).

The computer digitally puts the information into an image and sends it to the monitor, and the light, color and 4K resolution are displayed.

The term 4K refers to four times the number of pixels on the screen, compared to conventional HD. The 8 million pixels in Visera 4K UHD make the image quality better and allow the eye to determine the viewing distance from the image.

“Now it is the eye's periphery that dictates it [viewing distance],” said Patrick McCullough, senior product manager for Olympus Corp. of the Americas.

Visera 4K has a recorder which captures the surgery for physicians to print images or make a video to replay and consult.

Visera 4K UHD comes in 55-inch or 31-inch screens. The monitor is on a roll stand and can be placed on the opposite side of the bed from the surgeon or it can be mounted to a wall or hung with arms or booms from the ceiling.

“Olympus is committed to ensuring that as the tools and techniques for minimally invasive surgery evolve, we achieve commensurate progress in creating imaging solutions,” said Todd Usen, president, Olympus Medical Systems Group at Olympus Corp. of the Americas.

Forming Sony Olympus Medical Solutions from the two companies was a way to develop advances that improve endoscope systems.

A supplier of endoscopes, Olympus long has been engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of endoscopy products for surgical use, bringing with it a number of patents and technologies.

Sony has a long history of digital imaging offerings, so it can offer the image processing and components needed for the electronics piece of the new technology.

It appears to be a good match.

“This is the start of what a joint venture like ours can produce,” McCullough said.

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Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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