Video with 8k x 4k resolution (8k video) might be widely adopted in the medical industry earlier than in the broadcasting industry.
Medical Imaging Consortium (MIC) reported on the results of an animal experiment Jan 24, 2014, that it performed Dec 7, 2013. The experiment is an operation in which the gall bladder of a pig was removed by using an endoscope that enables to view 8k video (8k endoscope).
"It was a greater success than we had expected," said Toshio Chiba, chief director of MIC.
In the experiment, an 8k endoscope made by combining a compact 8k camera developed by Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc, etc and an endoscope manufactured by Shinko Optical Co Ltd was used.
8k video was employed for endoscopic surgery mainly for three reasons. First, because the resolution of video does not decrease even the endoscope is moved slightly away from the affected area in an endoscopic procedure, it becomes easier to use forceps. Second, because of the drastic improvement in resolution, it becomes possible to see the fine structures and boundaries of internal organs and tissue surfaces and fine sutures that are difficult to see. Third, the stereoscopic effect and realism of the operative field improve.
In regard to the first reason, with existing endoscopes whose resolution is equivalent to HD, it is necessary to move the tip of an endoscope considerably close to an internal organ to check its details. As a result, there is an increasing chance of collision between the endoscope and forceps. However, if the endoscope is away from the organ, it is impossible to see its details.
On the other hand, with its high resolution and zoom function, the 8k endoscope enables to enlarge the images of such details without compromising their vividness even when the endoscope is away from the organ, decreasing the chance of the collision.
"Because video from the endoscope is as detailed as that from a microscope, it might eliminate the need for surgical loupes," Chiba said.
As for the second reason, while HD video is equivalent to an eyesight of 1.06 (approx 20/18.87), 8k video is equivalent to an eyesight of 4.27 (approx 20/4.68). As a result, it becomes possible to see the internal structures of blood vessels and the boundaries between cancer tissues and normal tissues that could not be seen before as well as sutures with a diameter of 0.15-0.199, which are difficult to see even with the naked eye.
"It allows to see even cedar pollens," Chiba said.
As for the third reason, the stereoscopic effect and realism are useful for telemedicine and remote education systems for medical students, he said.
Referring to the rapid miniaturization of 8k cameras, Chiba said, "They were 80kg in 2002. But the weight was reduced to 40kg in 2004, 20kg in 2010 and 2.5kg in 2013. Also, I heard that their size will be reduced to 1/3 in one or two years." He plans to engage in activities for promoting the latest research results not only in Japan but also in other countries.