This project targets to localize and identify surgical instruments, sponges and personnel in the OR automatically, in order to support the surgical workflow and to ensure the patients safety.

Despite policies and procedures requiring operative personnel to count instruments and sponges before the surgical incision is closed, sponges or instruments are retained inside patient’s body – especially, if something unexpected or an emergency occurs. To reduce or eliminate this risk, in cooperation with Siemens Business Services München and Lohmann & Rauscher an automatic inventory record system is implemented and evaluated, i.e. sponges are embedded with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and monitored the position continously by an antenna.

The continuing cost and size reduction and improved performance in RFID technology makes it economically feasible to routinely attach RFID tags to various surgical supplies. The RFID tags are tiny microchips that act as transponders, which respond to radio signals sent and received by transceivers or RFID antennas.

The RFID antennas were attached to the experimental OR for near and far field and experiments are undertaken with sponges that are equipped with the transponders. The objective of the study is to determine the success rate of detecting RFID-tagged surgical sponges placed in the surgical wound. Further, for clinical application the range of the antennas, the sterilizability and miniaturization have to be optimized.