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London hospital streams live ops with Blackmagic

The Hammersmith Hospital London, UK, which is considered a major teaching hospital for its academic research unit of cardiologists, has turned to a Blackmagic Design AV broadcast solution so students and colleagues can follow live operations.

The research unit performs angioplasty (stenting) procedures to blocked coronary arteries, conducts international research trials and develops innovative tools to help identify which heart arteries require stenting.

The new Blackmagic design solution, which was implemented by French company Medinbox, enables doctors to record cardiovascular surgery techniques in real time and stream directly from the operating theatre.

The solution comprises two HD-SDI robotic cameras, which are installed in the operating theatre: one to capture a wide-angle shot of the room and the medical team, and one for close up shots of the surgical procedures. These, together with medical sources, such as patient monitoring, X-Rays and scopes are fed into a Blackmagic Design Compact Videohub router. The sources are then transmitted to a multi viewer or Blackmagic Design DeckLink I/O cards are used to form a virtual viewer to preview each input. A doctor using the system in an adjoining room to the operating theatre selects the source to be viewed using a custom built control touchscreen, and is also able to direct the cameras from the screen, zooming in or switching views using a simple set of arrow keys. The system also enables the user to add text, audio from the operating team and additional onscreen instructions to produce informative, high quality training material.

The compact system is operated from an adjoining room by one of the medical team, freeing up vital space in the theatre – as no video equipment is needed– and helping to maintain a sterile operating environment. It also allows the operating team to concentrate fully on the patient and the complex procedures being carried out. The touchscreen system has been designed so that a medical professional with little video experience can operate, which ensures that the most relevant images are captured for colleagues to understand exactly how the procedure should be executed.

“We needed a solution at the hospital that would enable us to show physicians the various techniques we have developed to select and treat blockages, by producing high quality video content that could be streamed worldwide,” explained Dr Sukhjinder Nijjer, specialist registrar in cardiology at National Heart and Lung Institute.

DeckLink capture cards are also used for outputting the processed video, which can be sent live to monitors or big screens, or captured for future use. “The videos are output in H.264, as we didn’t want doctors to have to deal with unwieldy, large files, particularly if they are being taken to seminars or forums,” explains Nicolas. “We use the DeckLink Duo and Quad capture and playback cards, depending on the amount of sources the team needs to capture, so it’s a very flexible system that retains a high quality, reliable image throughout the video.”

The system also connects to screens in a lecture theatre set up using codec endpoints in 1080p. This was put to good use at Hammersmith Hospital, which recently used the system to stream two live treatments to an international delegation of more than 40 practicing cardiologists, watching live in the hospital in a lecture theatre.