The iPad goes to the OR

By Molly Merrill
10:29 AM

Surgeons at Georgetown University are exploring the benefits of using an iPad in the operating room, according to an article published in the Journal Surgical Radiology. One surgeon says the technology's most obvious advantage in the OR is providing a "convenient way to easily access previous patient imaging."

The article, "The iPad in the Hospital and Operating Room," was written by Felasfa M. Wodajo, MD, senior editor, and assistant professor, orthopedic surgery, at both VCU School of Medicine, Inova Campus
and Georgetown University Hospital.

Georgetown surgeons are using the iPad to access in real time patient X-rays, CT scans, and laboratory data during surgical procedures. Wodajo writes that the technology could also be beneficial in teaching residents and "bypassing hospitals' restrictive networks to access remote files and office electronic medical records (EMRs) using the cellular 3G networks."

Wodajo explains in the article how he copies computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images from a patient's CD ROM to the iPad using two free resources called OsiriX and Dropbox. His workflow looks like this:

  1. Insert patient's CD ROM in computer and open with OsiriX
  2. Identify key images of interest
  3. Export images as JPEGs into a folder on computer
  4. View images in Dropbox app in iPad

Wodajo's only complaint is that there isn't a way "to organize images into albums once they are uploaded that would be preserved when the iPad is synchronized with iPhoto."

The iPad allows the surgeons to have access to key patient data in the OR but also on the wards, says Wodajo. The article details how Henry Feldman, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, successfully used the iPad as his primary computing device for a week as an attending at the hospital.

"The secure wireless network handoff was amazing. As I roved around it was seamless ... and the best example is that I would use the elevator ride to catch up on news/tech websites, and every time the elevator doors would open it would reconnect and download some more prior to the door closing," wrote Feldman.

In his article Wodajo comments on Felman's experince, saying, "we should remember that Beth Israel has a sophisticated Web interface for all their major clinical applications, making the transition to using an iPad fairly seamless."

In conclusion, Wodajo says, "the iPad clearly has the potential to be very useful in the hospital and in the operating theater. The same features which make the iPad great for surfing the web, such as looking at images and viewing video, nicely translate into the operating room."

Click here to read the full article.