Skip to Content

O.R. of the Future

Massachusetts General Hospital doctors lead a tour of what they hope will be the world’s most efficient operating room.
September 1, 2003

Today’s operating rooms are rats’ nests of equipment and wires, overpopulated with doctors and nurses who must constantly elbow past one  another to actually see what’s happening with a patient, adjust an instrument, or read a monitor. Not necessarily the ideal environment for the staff, let alone for the person on the table. But at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, a nonprofit consortium called CIMIT (for Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology) is building tomorrow’s operating room, and it looks a whole lot different.

The space itself-actually a suite of rooms-is open and airy, with elbow room to spare. Strategically placed cameras and monitors afford each member of the surgical team a clear view no matter how crowded the room gets. Equipment is neatly organized and designed for seamless integration. A computer keeps track of the doctors’ whereabouts via radio-frequency-and-infrared tags, and eventually each piece of equipment could be tracked the same way-meaning nurses won’t have to go searching for critical devices in the middle of surgery, and doctors won’t have to open patients back up to retrieve wayward clamps and sponges.

“The goal is to make it the safest operating room in the world, and also the most efficient,” says David Rattner, the surgeon who heads the Operating Room of the Future program. Rattner, along with surgical nurse Marie Egan-the project’s manager-and Warren Sandberg, the program’s director of anesthesia, showed Technology Review senior editor Rebecca Zacks just what the team is doing to reach that goal.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.