VCU Medical Center goes high definition

The startlingly clear images displayed by high definition televisions have attracted the attention of sports enthusiasts, movie fanatics, and video gamers. Now some surgeons at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center are among the first in the country to use the technology to gain extraordinary views of the human anatomy.

The new 19-inch high definition screens and 1088 HD cameras are being used during minimally invasive surgical procedures in which doctors use small instruments and cameras inside the body to perform operations. The images are captured by an endoscope – a long tube with a light and camera attached – and displayed on monitors that surgeons view as they perform procedures.

VCU has purchased 17 HD camera systems and surgeons began using the imaging equipment in March.

“This is superior imaging for laparoscopic surgery where we are totally dependent on how well we can see to conduct the surgery,” said Eric Demaria, M.D., professor and chair of the Division of General Surgery and director of the Minimally Invasive Surgery Center at VCU. “The better the visualization – the better the technical aspects of the surgery can be accomplished – the better the outcome for the patient.”

Demaria said the crystal clear images allow surgeons to more easily identify anatomical structures because the high definition technology generates a greater depth of view – or three-dimensional effect. The enhanced images enable the surgeon to perform delicate instrument maneuvers more naturally and precisely, which may reduce operating time, thereby shortening the time a patient must remain under anesthesia.

The enhanced imaging offers other benefits as well. “We are able to use smaller endoscopes since the image quality is so good,” according to Demaria.

As a result, the size of the incisions can be smaller. A procedure that once required six, 12-millimeter incisions can now be done with one 12-millimeter and five, five-millimeter incisions.

VCU plans to use the new camera systems in procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, gall bladder and hernia procedures, orthopedics, thoracic (chest) surgery, and obstetrics and gynecologic cases.

Established in 1995, the Minimally Invasive Surgery Center at VCU was created in anticipation of the trend in less radical surgical procedures. MISC surgeons have developed and perfected numerous laparoscopic surgical techniques including, gallbladder and kidney stone removal, hernia repair and repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms. The VCU Medical Center was the first in Virginia to offer a minimally invasive gastric bypass procedure for the severely obese.     

Stryker Corporation, which manufactures surgical and communications equipment for healthcare facilities, developed the HD imaging technology.

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