| Sandra Trauner |
Frankfurt (dpa) – When Dr Claus Eckardt makes delicate incisions on an eye, he doesn’t look down into a microscope like those preferred by many of his ophthalmologist colleagues. Wearing 3D glasses, he looks at a flat-panel display beside his patient. Eckardt is director of Frankfurt-Hoechst Hospital’s eye clinic and has advocated for computer-guided eye surgery at several medical congresses and is working on a paper to be published in the journal Retina.
Described by the manufacturer as a “stereoscopic high-definition visualisation system” that enables eye surgeons to operate in a “heads up” manner, Eckardt’s equipment – a cross between a microscope and 3D camera – costs nearly 70,000 euros (about 83,000 dollars).
“I’ve never operated with so much assurance,” remarked Eckardt, who’s been performing surgery exclusively with the system for months now. He said the image of the eye wasn’t just more vivid, but also larger and brighter, and praised not having to sit hunched for hours over a microscope. His only criticism: The image’s resolution is lower – “so far”.
To assess the new technique’s performance, Eckardt had medical students and nurses arrange pins or thread sequins, both under a microscope and wearing the 3D glasses. Half of the 20 test persons found the glasses to be faster, and nearly all of them said the work posture was more comfortable.
The new system overlays the image with guidance about where to make incisions. The first heads-up displays, developed for military pilots, projected data into their field of vision so that they could look straight ahead rather than down at their instruments. Some automakers and computer game designers now also use such displays.
The Federal Association of German Ophthalmic Surgeons (BDOC) sees promise for the technique in the field of medicine.
“It’s a track we should continue to follow,” said BDOC executive board member Dr Andreas Mohr. But he cautioned against expecting “a quantum leap in quality,” pointing out that the quality of surgery in 2D wasn’t bad either. Whether or not the technique catches on depends on many factors, Mohr said.
“3D applications are currently being developed for dentists, orthopaedists and plastic surgeons as well,” said Robert Reali, vice president at California-based TrueVision 3D Surgical, which manufactures the new visualisation system.
Urologists at the Asklepios Hospital in the eastern German city of Weissenfels are using the 3D eyeglasses to get a better view during minimally invasive surgery on bladders and kidneys.