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Surgical Lighting Systems: What to Consider Before Installing

Sponsored by Avante HS

By Eric Barner

Surgical lighting is a crucial part of every operating room. While the technology is straightforward, surgical lighting can become tricky when it comes to purchasing and successfully installing a new system in your facility. In this article, learn the importance of proper surgical light installation and how to help make the entire process go as smoothly as possible.

When choosing surgical lights, there are three major configuration choices: ceiling mount, wall mount, or portable mount. These are often available in configurations with multiple light heads, allowing you to customize the system so it meets your facility’s illumination requirements.

The Importance of Proper Surgical Light Installation

Once you’ve chosen the correct lighting system configuration for your facility, we get to the most important part – installation. In order to get the full use out of your lighting system, not to mention avoid costly building repairs or damage to your equipment, surgical lights must be installed properly.

One of the most common results of improper light installation is when light heads drift from their intended location. Not only are the lights incapable of maintaining steady illumination of the operative area, but dual configurations can also knock into one another and cause damage to the light heads. Without adequate planning, lights can also sit too low in the operating room and restrict movement. In absolute worst-case scenarios, faulty lights can cause electrical shock or fall from their ceiling mounts.

Avoid the pitfalls of improper light implementation by purchasing surgical lights from a reputable supplier that also offers installation services. Find a company that has the skilled technicians who have developed processes to ensure safe and effective installation. Though this may mean a substantial price increase upfront, the benefits and peace of mind are worth the investment.

Leave It to the Professionals

The most crucial part of surgical light installation is being able to assess the existing support structure, also known as the superstructure, and make needed adjustments. The superstructure will ultimately support the entire lighting system, so it’s vital that the construction is up to the task. Depending on the state of the existing superstructure, installation could encompass just a few minor updates or a complete retrofitting process. All of this must be completed while negotiating around rigid vent ducting, electrical conduits and wires, air handlers, and gas and water piping.

In addition to evaluating and reinforcing the lighting superstructure and handling the electrical installation, professional surgical light installers also use the proper techniques and hardware to ensure that the light heads achieve their full range of motion and don’t drift during use. Professional installers also adhere to medical facility standards from Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) Best Practices and Interim Life Safety Measures (ILSM).

How to Make the Installation Process Easier

To make the surgical light installation at your facility go as smoothly as possible, some preliminary steps are recommended. These set up clear communication and expectations between your facility’s staff and the light installers and helps to make sure everything goes according to plan.

First, assign a point of contact at your facility who will act as the liaison between your team and the surgical light installers. The point of contact can help to establish a timeline for construction and determine what kinds of paperwork and facility access permissions are needed to begin the installation process. If an on-site evaluation is needed before construction begins, the point of contact would be present to help answer any questions.

Before installation begins, it’s helpful for the installation team to have a good idea of the operating room’s size and specifications. This information is typically found in building blueprints, and should include the following:

  • Facility specifications, electrical or otherwise
  • Building structure type
  • Wall and/or ceiling material type
  • Distance from the finished floor to the finished ceiling
  • Distance from the finished floor to the existing superstructure
  • Distance between ceiling trusses

In addition to these preliminary measurements, photos of the existing support structure and related interstitial space can help light installers to determine implementation strategies.

Before installation begins, the electrical drop for connection should be established. The electrical drop will also need to be on a dedicated circuit. All equipment should be cleared out of the operating room if possible, allowing the installation team full space to work without navigating around valuable surgical equipment. The established point of contact for your facility should be present for the beginning of the installation process and should be easy to connect with for the duration of the project.

Eric Barner is a biomedical engineer for Avante Health Solutions. To learn more about our selection of surgical equipment and related services, visit



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