New three-dimensional technology to help Ballarat surgeons

Groundbreaking: St John of God Ballarat surgeon David Deutscher and Daniel Hinch with the new three-dimensional technology aimed at streamlining surgical procedures. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Groundbreaking: St John of God Ballarat surgeon David Deutscher and Daniel Hinch with the new three-dimensional technology aimed at streamlining surgical procedures. Picture: Lachlan Bence

St John of God Ballarat Hospital has become the first Victorian medical centre to introduce a three-dimensional, image-capable operating theatre.

The revolutionary ENDOALPHA system, developed by Olympus, was introduced as part of a major upgrade to St John of God’s imaging-in-theatre.

The equipment is part of a $120,000 upgrade, with the technology allowing surgeons to perform safer and more efficient laparoscopic procedures

Laparoscopic surgery involves operations using a laparoscope, a long fibre optic cable system that allows viewing of the affected area by snaking the cable from a more distant and accessible location.

As part of the upgrade, surgeons now wear a special set of glasses that allow them three-dimensional vision of the area, as opposed to the traditional two-dimensional view.

St John of God Ballarat manager of perioperative services Troy Tregilles said the technology has improved both the safety and efficiency aspects of operations.

“It’s a new technology for surgery – instead of being in two dimensions, it’s allowing surgeons to be in three (dimensions), which means that technically they can operate a little bit safer and faster,” Mr Tregilles said.

“As opposed to their brain having to co-ordinate, they (surgeons) can sense that depth perception with the 3D on.

“It’s a little bit different for surgery, they’ve got wear the (special) glasses and act in a bit of a different method.

“Predominantly (it will be) used for upper gastro-intestinal surgery and lower gastro-intestinal surgery – anything where you’re dissecting around something that is large and ovular.”

The project is still in its implementation phase but the Olympus solution has already reduced the number of extra instruments in the sterile surgical fields by two thirds.

Mr Tregilles said there is potential to bring the technology into more operating theatres, with the cost set at about $30,000 to introduce the three-dimensional system into other theatres.