ESSEX theatre staff are among the first in the country to use 3D technology to help with keyhole surgery.

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So far, three operations have been carried out at Colchester General Hospital where surgeons and other staff wear 3D glasses to look at the patient on a 3D monitor during surgery.

The first laparoscopic procedure was a prostatectomy by urological surgeons John Corr and Rowan Casey.

Mr Corr said: “When you do a standard laparascopic prostatectomy, you insert a camera and instruments through small cuts or ports in the patient and then do the procedure by looking at the patient on a large screen, which is like watching a normal television.

“However, the 3D system generates images on a 3D monitor that are true to life so it is much more like operating with the naked eye as in conventional open surgery, when no screens are used.

“Although so far I’ve been involved in only one procedure using this technology, our initial impressions have been extremely favourable – I am very excited about it.”

The technology has also been used in a gall bladder removal and a stoma reversal procedure by consultant surgeon Tan Arulampalam.

He said: “The depth perception that 3D laparoscopy offers allows the surgeon greater accuracy while dissecting.”

The system being trialled at the hospital, made by company Karl Storz, costs around £100,000 per kit which consists of a 3D monitor and an integrated 3D telescope and camera unit.

Richard Atkinson, systems development manager for Karl Storz Endoscopy (UK), said exact depth perception inside the human body was essential in many surgical procedures.

“The technology opens up a whole new dimension in imaging without compromising ease of use and is particularly valuable for activities such as suturing and knotting,” he added.

“We believe it will hopefully reduce patient stays, improving patient outcomes and also reduce the learning curve for new surgical procedures.”

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