On Friday the Richmond Hospital Foundation and Vancouver Coastal Health announced the official opening of Canada's first two operating rooms with 3D technology, which will allow surgeons to perform safer and more accurate minimally invasive abdominal surgeries.
Prior to the introduction of this technology, one of the biggest disadvantages of such laparoscopic surgeries was that the surgeon had no depth perception during operations.
"It allows us to better identify the relationships between organs and structures because we've restored our depth perception to a certain extent. …This allows for more precise movements and tissue handling," explained Richmond Hospital's Head of Surgery Dr. Sharadh Sampath.
As of late September, Sampath and his colleagues have been able to look at three high-definition televisions in each operating room as they remotely manipulate the 3D camera and other surgical tools that are inserted into a patient's body through small incisions.
As the surgery becomes theoretically easier for the surgeon to perform it can result in less complications such as tissue damage and blood loss as well as a faster recovery and less time in the hospital.
"Ultimately the goal is to do more with smaller incisions," said Sampath, who jokingly likens his new devices to video game controllers.
Setting up the two rooms cost $3.5 million and was paid for entirely with donations to the foundation. The equipment was purchased from and set up by ConMed Canada, a medical products company.
The nuts and bolts of the equipment is in the scope's camera, which now features two cameras instead of one. By wearing 3D glasses, the left and right lenses provide a 3D image for the eyes.
The 3D technology combined with current videoconferencing abilities means other doctors can watch from a secure remote location across the province, wearing their 3D glasses, noted Sampath.
"(Surgical Technology) has come a long way. I remember when I was training we used the box televisions. And that’s not long ago," said Sampath.
Currently, the 3D technology is only used for surgeries in the abdomen because the camera and light scope is too big (about the thickness of a pinky finger) for surgeries elsewhere.
Foundation President and CEO Natalie Meixner said the new technology means the hospital will be that much better suited to attract top doctors to work in Richmond. Additionally, Sampath said this advanced equipment bolsters the hospital's status as a teaching hospital.
Meixner noted that these kinds of improvements are important in order to keep up with Richmond's growing and aging population. She added that while the provincial government provides the basics of health care, donations are an important tool in providing more state-of-the-art hospital equipment.
"We're looking to donations to do things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to do," she said.