I work as an orthopedic physicians assistant, and was also considering trying my GoPro for recording surgery. We already record most of our cases via 3 ceiling mounted security-type cameras that have pan/tilt and incredible zoom. But there are times where either our heads, hands, or flouro machine obscure the picture. The GoPro seems a great solution for up close shots such as that.
Here's my take on it:
-The housing is plastic, and can not withstand an autoclave. So the lens being glass is irrelevant.
-You COULD, however, run it through a Steris machine. Whether or not this would be considered sufficient level of sterilization to be on your back table or not will be up to the facility and the Dr.
-You also could run it through a Sterrad. They use much lower temperatures as they disinfect with radiation instead of temperature.
-If shooting up close, as I would be, the brightness of the lights shouldnt be an issue if the whole view is the brightly lit surgical field. Now if you try to capture further back, to include the personnel, you would have to go with spot metering. That would get the field to at least be visible, but at the expense of darkening the people. I film our open cases with the overhead cameras all the time, even with all 3 lights pointed down into the field, when I zoom to fill the screen it looks fine. Once I zoom back more, say far enough to include the table, what is in the field becomes just whited out as the cameras balance to include the rest of the room.
-You would have to provide the housing(s) to the facility ahead of time to have them sterilized. Steris takes 35 minutes to run, but has to be done just before case time as there is no way to keep it sterile once the machine is opened. Sterrad needs at least 6 hours from when you need it, but would be the best option as it would come to the room in a sterile wrapper just like all of the instrument trays.
-Sterile housing opened out onto your back table with the rest of the instruments. NON-sterile camera would then have to be dropped into the case by your circulator, much like some of the batteries for cordless surgical drills have to be put into cases.
-As long as you can make the handoff and close up the housing without contaminating, you now have a sterile camera that you can use at the field like any other instrument.
I had considered the suction mount to one of the overhead lights(with a safety lanyard, just in case), using the forehead strap, or using a microphone stand with boom to hold it in from the side. After playing around with my GoPro for a while now, and my previous experiences recording other surgeries, none of these options seemed to work. For one, keeping things in the shot. You will either have a wide angle 170deg view and get it all in there but it will look small and far away, or you can get the 90deg view which reduces distortion and brings things closer but now how do you know if its in frame?
With the overhead cameras we use now, I have the remote for the pan/tilt/zoom in a sterile pouch and have a monitor on the wall where I can see what I am filming. Even with that, as we work on a hand or wrist case, the subject is always ending up out of frame. As we work and move the limb around, it goes out of the shot and I have to readjust the cameras. Having one in a fixed location, with no preview monitor (even the LCD BacPac would be facing the wrong way) I am sure things would constantly fall out of the shot.
Anyway, I hope this may be help to the OP. Check with your Dr and facility about if having a few housings wrapped and done up sterile is an option for you.