An Alternative for Operating Room Ceilings

For many years the conventional operating room ceiling consisted of a gypsum board or plaster ceiling with openings framed out for lights and diffusers. Openings would be field cut in the gypsum board for overhead surgical light supports, diffusers, general lighting and medical gas columns. With the advent of hybrid operating rooms, the construction of operating room ceilings has become more complex. These hybrid rooms contain imaging equipment hung from rails in the ceiling that are supported from the structure above. The imaging equipment is designed to move horizontally along these ceiling tracks. In addition to this overhead imaging equipment, there are more ceiling booms being provided to support multiple surgical lights, monitors and medical gas outlet sets. It becomes very difficult to field fabricate a tightly sealed gypsum board ceiling with all of the openings required for the support rails, lights, diffusers and booms.

As an alternative to field fabricating gypsum board operating room ceilings, several manufacturers of operating room type diffusers have developed an integrated ceiling system. The integrated ceiling system consists of a pre-engineered tee grid system that can be shipped from the factory in pieces and assembled in the field. The grid system is assembled on the floor of the operating room and lifted into place after it is assembled. The grid has a gasketed framing system that provides a tight seal for diffusers and lights between the ceiling plenum and the operating room. Framed openings are provided for laminar diffusers, lights, booms and access panels. Blank panels are provided to match the look of the laminar diffusers. These blank panels are used for access above the ceiling as well as for boom supports that penetrate the ceiling.

The material cost of the integrated ceiling system is higher than the field fabricated gypsum board ceiling system, however there is typically a substantial savings in the installation cost. Other advantages of the integrated ceiling systems are its appearance and the tight seal provided between the ceiling plenum and the operating room. Additionally, pre-engineered ceiling systems allow designers and constructors to fit all of the necessary support systems in tighter ceiling plenum spaces than a traditional “stick built” assembly.

If you would like more information regarding integrated ceilings for operating rooms, or if you would like assistance with an upcoming project, please contact Duane Markey, PE at or (717) 845-7654.