Lectrosonics On-Site Throughout Critical Surgical Procedures

Surgeons and technicians communicate via DM84 Digital Matrix Processor

Doug Curl of Smithcurl Communication Weymouth, MA - November 2007… For most of us, few things in life are more unsettling—or outright scary—than the prospect of heart surgery. So it doesn’t take much to appreciate the necessity for clear, dropout-free communication between the doctors that perform these delicate procedures and the technicians who assist them. One misinterpreted verbal cue from a surgeon can have catastrophic consequences. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the doctors and technicians at South Shore Hospital rely on a Lectrosonics DM84 Digital Matrix Processor to ensure clear, reliable communication.

South Shore Hospital’s Cath and Electrophysiology labs—those special procedure areas where cardio catheterization for procedures such as angioplasty and stent insertion (to clear blocked vessels and arteries) take place, rely heavily on the use of x-ray imaging technology to guide the catheters within the patient’s body. For the surgeons and others who work in these environments, protective clothing is a must. Surgeons wear special leaded outfits while the technicians in the adjacent control rooms sit behind lead lined walls and leaded glass.

For a recent renovation at South Shore Hospital, Smithcurl Communication, a full service systems integrator with a focus on the healthcare services industry, installed a Lectrosonics DM84 Digital Matrix Processor to oversee the bi-directional communication that is so essential during these surgical procedures. According to Douglas Curl, President and CEO of Smithcurl Communication, “This is a life safety environment where the challenge was to create a highly intelligible, full duplex, open mic, hands-free environment—free from the risk of clipping conversations or feedback. It is no exaggeration to say that a failure here can be deadly.”

The room’s setup includes an electret microphone positioned above the operating table in the procedural area along with a high quality loudspeaker. Similarly, a PTT (push to talk) desktop microphone with a Hold button (to engage talk without having to hold the button) and a loudspeaker reside in the control room. Both microphones feed into the Lectrosonics DM84 and, from there, pass signal to a 2-channel amplifier before feeding the loudspeaker. Signal is routed so that the overhead mic in the procedural area outputs through the loudspeaker in the control room, while the control room microphone outputs through the speaker above the operating table. While this setup in and of itself isn’t necessarily unique, the DM84’s DSP functionality is what distinguishes this arrangement.

To ensure microphone signals don’t loop back into the same areas where dialog originates—creating feedback in the process— the DM84’s Auto Mix function is engaged. By utilizing the Auto Mix function, Curl and his crew were able to program the DM84 to automatically detect (in real-time) the microphone currently in use and effectively switch the other microphone off.

“The processing speed of the DM84 is so fast,” says Curl, “that it can zero out the signal of the second mic so that it doesn’t go back through the system and create feedback with the second channel. We’ve been extremely impressed with this capability. Further, the user interface on the equipment is fantastic. We use the LecNet2 software to create our settings and then lock them down, at which point the DM84 is really a set it and forget it piece of equipment.”

Curl was equally enthusiastic about Lectrosonics’ customer and technical support services. “In an environment of this nature, equipment failure is not an option,” notes Curl. “We initially had some questions about the DM84’s operation, and Lectrosonics was extremely responsive. We’ve even had the regional sales representative, Howard Kaufman, come on-site on at least two occasions to help ensure the unit’s operation was being optimized—and that’s rare for any business. Lectrosonics really stands behind their equipment.”

Similarly, Curl reports that South Shore Hospital is equally pleased with the performance of their new audio system and, at this point, Smithcurl Communication has installed the DM84 in all three of the hospital’s Cath/EP Labs. “They’re ecstatic,” said Curl. “Communication is such a critical factor in this type of environment because one misinterpreted command can have serious consequences. This new system really advances communication between the surgeons and the technicians in the control room.”

For additional information about Smithcurl Communication, Inc., visit the company online at www.smithcurl.com.

About the Lectrosonics DM84 Digital Matrix Processor
DM84The Lectrosonics DM84 is an 8-in, 4-out digital matrix processor with the capability to route any combination of inputs to any combination of outputs with extremely low throughput latency. Automatic microphone mixing is accomplished via a patented Adaptive Proportional Gain algorithm and the unit contains of wealth of DSP functionality including delay, compression, limiting, auto mic mixing, and mix minus. With the ability to cascade multiple units for system expansion, programming capability via a PC interface using LecNet2 software for Windows, and compatibility with AMX® and Crestron® automation systems, the DM84 is a versatile performer for a wide range of applications.

About Lectrosonics

Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.