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  • Writer's pictureBill Summers

The most important consideration when evaluating how to build your OR ceiling… the Patient.

“You cannot match Single Large Diffuser performance using traditional stick-built construction”

During an evaluation with a hospital owner or GC, so often the conversation comes back to cost. Not to say that cost isn’t important, but it can’t be lost that single large diffuser (SLD) technology is scientifically proven to be superior from a contamination control perspective, when compared to traditional stick-built ceilings. When you break it down and understand the why, it really becomes simple.

The Challenge of Stick-Built Ceiling Construction

The overhead ceiling of an operating room or interventional suite is a very congested space. Architects and mechanical/structural engineers are trying to fit a lot of infrastructure into a small amount of real estate. Things like lighting fixtures, air diffusers, structural boom mounts, fire sprinklers, access panels, patient lifts, and more all need to fit in a fixed area to meet clinical need for patient care. Between these items, oftentimes drywall needs to separate the components that comprise the overhead ceiling. The room needs to meet photometric lighting calculation requirements, ASHRAE 170, and FGI guidelines.

And that’s just from the room side. Above the ceiling becomes a myriad of structural steel, ductwork, medical gas plumbing and seismic bracing all throughout and it becomes very congested.

It truly is a monumental task stick-building a ceiling for an operating room or interventional suite.

The Airflow Difference

From an airflow perspective, a stick-built ceiling will always require many gaps between air delivery fixtures (air diffusers) which create 2 basic things; high-pressure zones and low-pressure zones. CFD particle traces show that this style of ceiling system creates turbulence in a room.

A Single Large Diffuser (SLD) system creates unidirectional downward flow which is a scientifically proven laminar flow that is a coordinated relationship with supply air and low air returns.

Images on top row show a stick-built multi-diffuser array ceiling compared to bottom row illustrating a Single Large Diffuser. If you were a patient, which room would you want to be in?


During your next evaluation of building an Operating Room or Interventional Suite, it may be a good idea to ask yourself, “are we building this ceiling for our construction budget or for the patient”. Then evaluate a Single Large Diffuser technology and you might find that this solution serves both.

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