Surgeons warming up to use of 3-D technology

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A new study out of Germany finds surgeons warming up to the idea of wider use of 3-D technology.

In the study, 50 surgeons were asked to compare four different screen systems during a test in which they were to make 10 stitches with a needle and thread to close a wound in a model abdominal cavity. They compared 2-D, 3-D with and without glasses, and a mirror apparatus that served as the "ideal" 3-D model, according to an announcement.

The surgeons did not have a direct view of their hands and had to rely on the image on the screen. Overall the procedure was 15 percent faster and more precise with the glasses-based 3-D system and the "winning" surgeon had more than 30 years of experience. In the past, more experienced surgeons were the most leery of using 3-D, according to the announcement.

"While the technology still requires some fine-tuning, technology that does without the need to wear special glasses will increase the popularity of 3-D systems in operating rooms," said Ulrich Leiner, head of the Interactive Media - Human Factors department at Heinrich Hertz Institute in Munich. "In the past, surgeons were hesitant to use the technology precisely because of the glasses."

While the 3-D model without glasses was found comparable to 2-D, it was not considered the most precise model. The researchers continue to work on the eye-tracking technology at the basis of 3-D to eliminate the need for glasses.

Meanwhile, researchers in Rome have found that playing games on the Nintendo Wii--games than require eye-hand coordination, movement precision, depth perception and 3-D visualization--can sharpen the skills of young laparoscopic surgeons.

Washington University in St. Louis recently landed a $2.5 million grant to develop 3-D computer models of brain biomechanics to better understand what happens during traumatic brain injury.

To learn more:
- find the announcement

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