Four Operating Room Technologies to Master

Technologies designed to optimize surgical care delivery can be complex and require specialized training and experience to select, implement and master. AORN Perioperative Practice Specialist Julie Cahn, DNP, RN, CNOR, RN-BC, ACNS-BC, CNS-CP, shares the top OR technologies that will impact care in 2020 and beyond Specialties Operating Room Event

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Four Operating Room Technologies to Master

Technology is advancing perioperative care on many fronts and keeping up is critical to providing safe patient care, stresses Julie Cahn, DNP, RN, CNOR, RN-BC, ACNS-BC, CNS-CP, perioperative practice specialist for AORN.

“The complexities of new OR technologies and the changes they bring to nursing practice keep nursing exciting as well as challenging, but knowledge is power in understanding these technologies and keeping patient safety and optimal outcomes your priority,” Cahn notes.

She recommends nurses recognize the importance of adaptability and that they approach learning as a lifelong opportunity, especially when it comes to the value new technologies bring to nursing care and better results.

Technologies to Master

In the year ahead Cahn is looking to four specific technologies that nurses should understand and feel comfortable with. While some of these technologies are applied in the OR, others impact patients along various points in their surgical care.

Top four technologies where nurses’ competence is necessary...


While robotic-assisted surgeries have been evolving in the perioperative setting for years, Cahn says robotic procedures are currently occurring in almost every surgical specialty and their use is predicted to increase. “Perioperative nurses play an incredibly important role in understanding how robotics technology is implemented in order to protect the patient and support the surgeon for optimal outcomes.”

Hybrid ORs

Whether it is in an endovascular suite or MRI suite, both of these hybrid rooms and the procedures performed in them are increasing, Cahn says. The technologies used in hybrid ORs are also advancing, bringing new approaches to everything from diagnostics and image-guided surgery to postoperative recovery all in one setting.

Adjunct environmental cleaning technologies

Environmental cleanliness is foundational to the prevention of SSIs and advances in adjunctive room decontamination system technology, such as ultraviolet light (UV) and hydrogen peroxide, may be used in addition to manual cleaning procedures, Cahn says. “Nurses need to work closely with environmental services team members and leadership to evaluate adjunct cleaning technologies and implement them in ways that ensure optimum efficacy and patient and staff safety.”

Predictive analytics

Advances in software technology allow perioperative data collection for analysis. This analysis enables predictions that can optimize OR scheduling and patient throughput, she notes. “There are more programs than ever that help provide data analytics on perioperative efficiency to understand how your department is working currently. It’s necessary that nurses understand how this technology works as well as how to apply it in new ways.”

There are emerging technologies that can support specific service lines, too. For example, earlier this year, a drone was used to deliver an organ for transplant. Also, cryoreductive surgery combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is being used in oncology surgery.

“With any technology used in perioperative care, perioperative nurses need to be actively involved in a robust process for product evaluation and integration to help with transitions in practice change,” Cahn advises. “Working closely with product manufacturers to take advantage of education and training provided can help offer personnel hands-on experience prior to implementation.”

Staying informed

Cahn suggests nurses stay informed by seeking out health IT resources in specialty publications that include news of OR technology trends. The AORN Journal is one example as it provides ongoing coverage of emerging technologies such as robotics, hybrid ORs, and procedures using HIPEC.

Conferences are another valuable resource for opportunities to gain knowledge about technology trends. She says, “talking about technology with nurses at different types of facilities who may be trialing and implementing new OR technologies can provide interesting insights to what is happening in your area.” AORN hosts the Global Surgical Conference & Expo where there are numerous networking opportunities and where technology is well-covered in education sessions and on the exhibit floor. It’s an opportunity for nurses to talk to reps and see the advancements at work. The conference in 2020 is March 28 – April 1 in Anaheim.

The World's Largest Gathering of Perioperative Nurses

AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2020

Anaheim, CA | March 28 – April 1

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