Smartphones and e-tablets in perioperative medicine

Korean J Anesthesiol. 2017 Oct;70(5):493-499. doi: 10.4097/kjae.2017.70.5.493. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


Smartphones and electronic tablets (e-tablets) have become ubiquitous devices. Their ease of use, smartness, accessibility, mobility and connectivity create unique opportunities to improve quality of surgical care from prehabilitation to rehabilitation. Before surgery, digital applications (Apps), serious games and text messaging may help for a better control of risk factors (hypertension, overweight), for smoking cessation, and for optimizing adherence to preoperative recommendations (e.g., regarding anticoagulation or antihypertensive treatments). During surgery, Apps may help to rationalize fluid management and estimate blood loss. After surgery, smartphones and/or connected sensors (pulse oximeter, adhesive path, electronic tattoo, bioimpedance necklace) can be used to monitor body temperature, heart rate, heart rate variability (detection of cardiac arrhythmia), respiratory rate, arterial oxygen saturation and thoracic fluid content. Therefore, these tools have potential for the early detection of infectious, cardiac and respiratory complications in the wards and from home. When connected to echo probes, smartphones and e-tablets can also be used as ultrasound devices during central venous catheter insertion, for peripheral nerve blocks, and to perform echocardiography in patients developing cardiac complications. Finally, electronic checklists now exist as Apps to enhance communication between patients and healthcare professionals, and to track and record step by step each element of the surgical journey. Studies are now urgently needed to investigate whether this digital revolution can translate into a better outcome, an earlier detection of postoperative complications, a decrease in hospital readmissions and in health care costs.

Keywords: Digital application; Electronic tablet; Perioperative medicine; Smartphone; Surgical complication; Wearable sensor.

Publication types

  • Review