3D video microscope helps ease the burden of complex surgical procedures

U.S. hospitals are testing out a new device that transmits 3D video to screen for surgeons performing complex procedures. (Pixabay)

Video microscopes that provide a high-definition, three-dimensional rendition of surgical procedures are poised to reinvent complex surgeries and assist with training.

Several U.S. medical centers are testing a new device, manufactured by Sony and Olympus, that uses a small surgical microscope to transmit 3D video onto a 55-inch screen in the surgical suite, the New York Times reported. Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina and Massachusetts General Hospital are among those that have used the device.

The benefits of the device are twofold: Surgeons—particularly neurosurgeons—undertaking complex procedures can use the small microscope to enlarge areas of the brain or spine that are difficult to see with the human eye. Surgeons are often left craning their necks for several hours, but the 3D rendering provides a magnified image they can view while looking straight ahead.

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Advocates also point to the value of the microscope as a teaching tool, allowing surgical students an intimate view of surgical techniques.

"I don’t think it’s a gimmick,” Charles L. Brank, chief of neurosurgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center told the Times. “I believe it will be widely adopted fairly quickly.”

Others acknowledged the value of the new tool but added that the device may be less appealing to “conservative” surgeons who are resistant to new techniques.

The surgical suite has benefited from new, innovative technology. Over the last decade, robotic surgical equipment has become a staple in hospitals across the country, although recent research suggests that the high price tag of those systems don’t always pay off.  

Virtual reality has also emerged as a training tool for surgical residents and emergency physicians. Earlier this year, MedStar Health debuted a virtual reality program designed to help physicians and surgeons manage trauma cases.