The benefits of modular acoustic ceiling in the operating room

Operating rooms are demanding environments and require solutions with superior characteristics in terms of hygiene and cleaning. Another important aspect is the working conditions for the staff, with noise beeing one of the main barriers for communication. We have interviewed staff at different hospitals in France to learn about their acoustic solutions for operating rooms.

The first beneficial factor provided by an acoustic modular ceiling is better working comfort for medical teams and facilitated communication.

A study conducted in Denmark showed that caregivers found communication to be improved when measures were taken to improve acoustics. In addition, 90% of them experienced the sound environment as being less stressful when acoustic ceilings and/or wall panels were installed.1

A French study of medical staff 2 working in operating theatres shows that 98% of them consider their environment to be noisy. Once again, noise is perceived as a real barrier to communication. To facilitate good room acoustics, staff must collaborate with general policies as well as individual behaviours. Nevertheless, technical installations are also to be considered to promote a better sound environment and a better working environment for medical staff.

The second beneficial factor of an acoustic modular ceiling is the accessibility of the technical installations in the plenum. It is easier to get access to installations for the group of technical teams working on these premises with demountable tiles.

In fact, for technical and accessibility reasons, hospital maintenance teams favour this type of ceiling. Any maintenance or intervention in the operating room must be carried out quickly in order to interfere as little as possible with the availability of the room and not create hold-ups. A modular acoustic ceiling will make it possible to intervene as quickly as possible.

Managers of technical- and other departments in different hospitals in France were interviewed on this subject and shared their experiences with us. Let’s hear what they have to say.

Centre Hospitalier de l'Agglomération de Nevers

Room: Angiography room
Product: Ecophon Hygiene Advance
Ceiling installer: NTB
Interviewee: Fabrice Levrault, Project and Maintenance Engineer

The hospital has acquired an X-ray camera for one of its operating rooms, here in an Angiography room. Fabrice Levrault happily shares the reasons that led him to choose a sound-absorbing modular ceiling in 2019.

The X-ray camera is a piece of highly technical equipment that generates noise, approximately around 53 dB(A), and it is well known that the use of this technique will affect the sound environment in the operating room. The technical department was aware that the acquisition of the camera would also require regular maintenance where access to the ceiling was required. Installation of the camera thus needed to be compatible with demountable sound-absorbing tiles and comply with the hygienic requirements for an operating room.

X-ray camera in an operating room

The Ecophon Hygiene Advance™ solution was proposed and validated by the Hygiene service. This demountable tile was a favourable choice for maintenance and gave accessibility to installations above the ceiling, met all the cleaning requirements, with the great bonus of adding to a better sound environment in the operating room.

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The concern that we had about the acoustic tiles lifting from the grid did not occur, the installation is stable, the tiles stay in place.

Fabrice Levrault

The medical team can really feel the difference and the improved comfort of working in this operating room compared to other rooms. A solution that meets technical and hygienic needs and provides better quality of work for medical teams.

Centre Hospitalier de Clermont-Ferrand – Hôpital de Thiers

Room: Operating rooms, general
Product: Ecophon Hygiene Protec Air (former Ecophon Labotec™ Air)
Interviewee: Frédéric Chaudriller, Project Engineer

For any type of hospital environment, the longevity and durability of building materials are of great concern. The Ecophon modular ceiling solutions for operating rooms have been around for a number of years.

Frédéric Chaudriller gives us his feedback on ISO 7-classified operating rooms where the Ecophon Hygiene Protec™ Air solution (formerly called Labotec Air) was installed more than ten years ago here at the Thiers Hospital.

The renovation of two operating rooms required lowering the ceiling. So initially, the Ecophon tiles were primarily selected for technical reasons.

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The technical teams were concerned about accessibility and maintenance and the demountable tile solution seemed easier to implement; the 600x600 solution really sold itself!

Frédéric Chaudriller

This choice of tiles was discussed at length with Hygiene specialists who had preconceptions about the cleaning methods. But the use of clips made it possible to hold the tiles in place during cleaning and they finally validated the proposal.

With regard to cleaning, it is true that some surgeries generate more or less splatter. With a modular ceiling, you can either clean the tile or exchange it with a new tile rather than covering the stain with paint as previously done (which does not necessarily make the ceiling cleaner). In general, the increasing need for flexibility and rapid hospital changes doesn't comply well with installing non-removable ceilings or else it requires a large number of inspection hatches.

As far as noise is concerned, the sound environment hadn't received much attention despite the general knowledge that “an operating activity is by nature noisy”. But this is an important criterion to be taken into account to improve the teams’ working conditions.

The new Sterilization Unit at the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital is another example of this: the working team was aware of the noise challenges in these units and was able to have Hygiene Protec Air solution installed.

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Acoustics, along with other aspects, will have to be taken into consideration in future building projects. I will think hard about these solutions for both technical and acoustical reasons.

Frédéric Chaudriller

Unicancer Nancy - Institut de Cancérologie de Lorraine

Room: Operating rooms, general
Product: Ecophon Hygiene Advance 20mm
Ceiling installer: Simon Jacquemin
Interviewee: Giuliano Giangreco, Head of Technical services and fire safety

The institute is equipped with four surgical intervention rooms with the Ecophon Hygiene Advance™ solution installed. The size of the rooms is between 40 m² and 50m², where six to eight people are working together. Several types of surgeries are performed: gastric surgery, gynaecology, urology, ENT, endoscopy, plastic surgery with placement of breast prostheses, and placement of central catheters.

Operating room

©credits_ICL_service_com

Giuliano Giangreco selected this solution from the various options offered by the company. At the time, two elements were essential: water-resistance and the possibility of steam cleaning. The Hygiene Advance solution was the answer.

Advance technical tiles were used to ensure a very good finish for the edges in the ceiling. Later on, a new specific cleaning method that required access to the plenum emerged in the project. With the demountable tiles installed there was no problem accessing it 16 times/year.

In all the acoustically well-treated rooms the staff was very happy with the sound environment.

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If it was a question of redoing a new operating theatre, Hygiene Advance would be one of the solutions that I would consider.

Giuliano Giangreco

 

Hôpital Saint-Joseph Marseille

Room: Endoscopy room
Product: Ecophon Hygiene Advance
Ceiling installer: HED
Interviewee: Department and staff at the material resources division

To date, four endoscopy rooms are equipped with the Ecophon Hygiene Advance™ modular ceiling. This type of work is organized by the PRM team and led by Cécile Roure.

Originally, some rooms were already equipped with this type of ceiling. Appearing adequate, during the work on the new building, this solution was retained.

Endoscopy room

©Franck Deletang

From a technical point of view, the Hygiene Advance fully meets all demands and also provides better acoustics in the operating room. When you know that five to eight people are present at the same time and that there is always a lot of noise in the room due to advanced ventilation and the medical equipment, this is a real bonus. Indeed, this will enable efficient communication between medical staff.

In terms of installation, the hospital has chosen to silicone the tiles, a practice that dates back several years. To maintain access to the plenum, clips were used.

The cleaning department is in charge of all cleaning protocols within the hospital and the endoscopy rooms are cleaned accordingly after each procedure.

The Ecophon solution

Operating rooms are demanding environments, which require solutions with superior characteristics in terms of hygiene and cleaning. Two ceiling solutions are currently used in France within the Ecophon Hygiene range.

The Hygiene Advance solution mentioned in most of these hospitals is often chosen for its smooth appearance provided by its high-tech film enclosing the tile but also as it can withstand daily cleaning even with the use of strong chemicals. The second Hygiene Protec Air solution, also described above, with its particle-repellent coating offers a very good second option for operating rooms, where particle control is an essential issue.

 


References:

1Mai-Britt Beldam, Impact of acoustics on staff performance in operation rooms. Internoise, 2019
2Marie-Hélène Landreau, Le bloc opératoire : salle d’intervention ou salle d’interférence, Ecole IBO CHU Nice, 2021