The History of Surgical Lamps

Light is one of the most important elements in an operating theater. It has a great influence on the course of an operation and is essential for every successful procedure. But every situation, every tissue and every user is different. What is needed is lighting that is so versatile that it is suitable for every situation and for everyone who operates it.



Unfortunately the problem with this was that surgeons relied on the time of the day and weather conditions to perform surgery. In response the use of mirrors on four corners of the ceiling was used to reflect the sunlight towards the operating table but the problems were only slightly reduced. Before the development of surgical lighting operating rooms were built towards the south-east with windows in the ceiling to benefit from the natural sunlight as much as possible. 



Before electricity allowed lightbulbs to illuminate an operating room, candles were used as a light source during a procedure. Additionally, surgeries were performed during daylight hours so surgeons could use the natural sunlight for illumination.2 Surgical lights as they are recognized today have evolved over more than a century since electricity was first discovered in 1879, with surgical light manufacturers continuously working to improve lighting conditions for surgeons and OR staff.



First lamp to use halogen gas (chlorine) was patented in 1882 but the first commercial halogen lamp that used iodine as a halogen gas was patented in 1959 by General Electric. Otherwise, INSPITAL used halogen light before 2010. Since we keep up with technology, INSPITAL stopped using halogen light once more developed LED lights were invented.



With the introduction of light-emitting diodes (LED) as light sources, the problem of heat radiation was removed, while energy requirement was reduced. In an effort to reduce the heating Optical condenser were used in an indirect light but they were not a success. When the electric lights made their entrance into the operating room in the 1880s it also quickly showed problems. At this early stage of electricity, the ability to control the light emitted was very low. The light created was still moving and diffused with great heat radiation.



Present Day

Surgical lights are the least of our worries today. Almost every 5-10 years a new and improved surgical light is created; LED lighting is being developed more and more as our world becomes more conscious of our environment.


Prior to the invention of the electric light, the first surgical operations took place in daylight, with illumination from 10,000 lx to 80,000 lx depending on the time of day and cloud cover.  By the end of the 19th century, light bulbs replaced direct sunlight and allowed more freedom to perform surgery throughout the day. By the 1960s, the use of halogen bulbs increased the amount of light available on the operating table to 100,000 lx — comparable to bright noon sunlight on a Mediterranean beach. Thirty years later, discharge lamps nearly doubled the available light to 200,000 lx! But this “more is better” approach led to eye fatigue, diminishing surgeons’ effectiveness. Today, more and more surgical lights operate with LEDs. These bulbs use less energy to produce crisper, cooler illumination that gives surgeons the visibility they need to make effective diagnostic decisions.