The following article appeared in the March 2015 edition of Outpatient Surgery Magazine.

Thinking of Buying... LED Surgical Lights

The cool, bright, efficient systems have become OR standards.

By Jolene Lyons, RN, CNOR, CASC; and Kelly Spivey

When LED surgical lights first hit the market about a decade ago, the main selling point was their coolness — that is, their bright light didn't generate much heat. This thermal benefit originally brought LEDs into cardiovascular and neurosurgical operating rooms, above cases in which the drying out of tissue is to be avoided at all costs.

But the technology soon found a following in many other specialties, and installations in many ORs and procedure rooms. Now LED lights are the industry standard for surgical illumination, and halogens are rarely even in the running for equipment replacement or new construction projects.

Less expensive in the long run

Even today, some potential buyers may pause at LED lights' higher initial cost, but the reality is, they're the more economical option. In older, halogen-driven technology, the bulb replacement costs during the lifespan of the light fixture may well end up equaling or exceeding the entire cost of an LED system. Light-emitting diodes' usable lives are measured in years, as compared to halogen bulbs' hours. The LEDs also consume less energy, which contributes to the lower cost of ownership. Bright, cool and color-true. Long-lasting, low-maintenance and energy-efficient. It's easy to see why LEDs have taken over surgical lighting.

So if your surgeons are routinely wearing headlamps to supplement the light that your old workhorses shine on their cases; if a renovation offers the opportunity to upgrade your illumination and standardize a mixed bag of vendors for overhead fixtures; if replacement parts for your existing lights are purchased more frequently, or becoming harder to obtain, then it's time to look into LED lights.

Purchasing considerations

The light that a system delivers — its intensity, color quality and shadowing — is without question the most important consideration, but there are other aspects that should factor into your purchasing decision, such as a system's reach, ease of positioning and stability, and its suitability for the types of procedures at your facility. Many vendors have mobile versions of surgical lighting systems that can be brought in for on-site trials. Some vendors will actually hang a set of lights in your OR for a period of evaluation if the ceiling structure can support it.