Dr. Laith Jazrawi on untethering orthopedic surgeons with wireless technology

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Wireless surgical cameras can create a safer, more efficient environment for orthopedics, and a "boom" in the technology is on the horizon, said Laith Jazrawi, MD.

He debuted the ArthroFree wireless camera in an arthroscopy case in September at New York City-based NYU Langone Orthopedic Center and is studying its benefits and capabilities.

Dr. Jazrawi spoke with Becker's about wireless cameras in orthopedics and how he predicts the technology will grow.

Note: This conversation was edited for clarity and length.

Question: How do the benefits of wireless surgical cameras translate to benefiting the patient?

Dr. Laith Jazrawi: The first thing is in terms of efficiency in the operating room. There are fewer cables being passed off the table, decreasing the chance for infection and sterility issues or breaking of sterility. In arthroscopy it is very rare to have an infection, but anything that can aid in that is good.

I think the most important thing is that this technology is going to advance the way we do things in the office. This traditional procedure that's done in the operating room, where the patient has to come and have general anesthesia, this technology where you're eliminating wires that make it more complicated to do this surgery, can now be done more reliably in the office for easier and with better sterility issues.

For me, that's how I see the application of this technology in the future. Now we use arthroscopy for a lot of things, more advanced procedures. I think when you have big cases with a lot of equipment, eliminating wires that go off the table, where you have to disconnect those wires when you do the open part of the procedure, makes things a lot easier too.

Q: What percentage of your arthroscopy cases do you generally do in office compared to an OR?

LJ: I do about 3 percent in the office right now and mostly for diagnostic purposes. After surgery, we use a nano scope, which is a much smaller scope, but it's connected via wires. So it's a big production scale in the office, where you have to bring in the light source, you've got to bring in the cables, the cable that connects to the source that connects it to the TV.

So just imagine just wheeling [in] a TV screen, and you have the wireless scope. That's it. No wires connected. The only thing that hangs off the table and all of office diagnostic arthroscopy will just be the fluid. It eliminates so many aspects of the procedure that you need an assistant to connect these things off the table.

Q: What do you want to see in the next generation of wireless surgical cameras?

LJ: The only issue with going wireless is if the image is going to be real-time. That was the first thing to accomplish, and that was what our study was looking at. Was this a real-time interaction where I put the scope in? I put my instrument in, and I'm seeing it real-time up there. There's no lag or delay. That's been accomplished.

Now, the second step is the image quality and getting it to the point that it's 4K … which is what the wired scopes currently have in terms of crispness. … That's a challenge. You're transferring an image wirelessly, and there's some degradation of that image quality. The technology is almost there where they're going to be able to get the same image quality wirelessly transmitted to your computer or the TV screen. They've done it with other technologies. We watch a lot of things wirelessly without degradation of the image.

Q: How do you predict this type of technology could develop for other orthopedic and spine procedures?

LJ: For anything that uses a scope in other aspects of orthopedics and spine, I think the same thing applies. It's just the next step in technology for us that will usher in a boom of other non-wired or non-tethering things that will allow us to do these surgeries more quickly without the need for multiple connections and to [work] more efficiently with a quicker turnover, where we don't need to disconnect everything. The easier things are, the better for the staff, and then ultimately the better for the surgeon. Then with the rapid turnover, you get more cases done.


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