Operating room
Operating roomYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Rambam Hospital in Haifa: ​Like a science fiction movie scene, white-coated figures intently monitor semi-circular wall of screens flanking a patient on an operating room table...

The state-of-the-art control system installed in the recently opened Head and Neck Operating Room in Haifa's Rambam Hospital is the first of its kind in the world.

Some of the screens on the semi-circular wall flanking the operating table monitor the patient’s vital signs, while others follow the surgeon’s movements as he uses sophisticated imaging tools to guide a surgical tool through the patient’s nostril, in order to excise a tumor in her neck.

The control system is like a “computerized cockpit system,” according to the Director of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at Rambam, Prof. Ziv Gil. Designed using know-how attained from the aviation industry, it was custom-built to meet the particular specifications of the department.

The system was made possible by the generosity of a group of business leaders who prefer to remain anonymous. The system’s design is unique even in today’s technology-laden hospital environments.

“It is adapted to function in an environment specifically designed for head and neck surgeries," Gil said, "and it enables all of the operating room’s systems to be adjusted and coordinated by the surgical team according to the needs of the patient and the type of intervention.”

The system displays an entire array of data about the patient and the progress of the procedure in real time, helping monitor, streamline, and assure the patient’s safety during surgery.

At the start of a surgical procedure, the control system coordinates the various supporting systems according to parameters pre-set by the surgeon reflecting his or her preferences for that procedure and the needs of that particular patient. “The system facilitates improvements to patient safety and shortens procedure time,” says Professor Gil. “Furthermore, it records the entire procedure, which makes it possible to go back and evaluate it later on.”

The control system was programmed by a multi-disciplinary team that included Rambam’s Head and Neck Disorders Center, the Department of Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Engineering and IT departments. “As surgery becomes more and more specialized, we prefer to pick and choose tools and approaches from a variety of disciplines that best serve our unique head and neck surgery needs,” Gil said.

Tumors of the head and neck are common in children and adults and are generally treated through surgery. Because of the complexity of the anatomical area, they are especially challenging to diagnose and treat. There are dozens of different procedures for removing these tumors, ranging from minimal to highly invasive.