An operating microscope is an optical microscope specifically designed to be used in a surgical setting, typically to perform microsurgery.
Design features of an operating microscope are: magnification typically in the range from 4x-40x, components that are easy to sterilize or disinfect in order to ensure cross-infection control.
There is often a prism that allows splitting of the light beam in order that assistants may also visualize the procedure or to allow photography or video to be taken of the operating field.
An example of a procedure which commonly uses an operating microscope would be endodontic retreatment, where the magnification provided by the operating microscope improves visualisation of the anatomy present leading to better outcomes for the patient. Another example might be an anastomosis procedure carried out to join blood vessels in vascular surgery.
Typically an operating microscope might cost several thousand dollars for a basic model, more advanced models may be much more expensive. Additionally specialized microsurgical instruments may be required to make full use of the improved vision the microscope affords. It can take time to master use of an operating microscope.
Fields of medicine that make significant use of the operating microscope include Plastic Surgery, dentistry (especially endodontics), ENT surgery, ophthalmic surgery, and neurosurgery.