3D first for surgeons at Manchester Royal Infirmary

Surgeons at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) in the UK have become the first to use 3D technology in a prostate cancer operation, during what is hoped to be the first of many proceedures using this technique. 62 year old John Green has undergone a 3D hand-held robotically assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy; meaning the prostate which contains a small cancer will be completely removed. However, for the first time in the UK, handheld robot technology has been used in conjunction with

Normally, keyhole surgery is performed with the surgical team using a 2D screen to see inside the body, but because it is a 2D image, there are limitations on depth perception. This means that surgeons have to use their experience and skill to be able to interpret shadows on the screen. The MRI team has used a HD 3D camera system which delivers a 3D image on the operating monitor. All of the surgeons and theatre staff wore 3D glasses to enable them to see the image.

The combination of these two new technologies will allow for more surgical mobility with keyhole techniques and greater vision, whilst maintaining the tactile feedback currently gained with laparoscopic surgery but that you don't get with current robotic instruments. The hope is that the 3D image will allow for precision and better results for patients; all at a fraction of the costs of current robotic and imaging techniques. The team plan to trial the technology on a small number of patients to see how effective it is.

Dan Burke, the Consultant Urologist who is leading on today's surgery said: "If the results are as great as we are expecting, we will look to see how we can raise the money to buy the equipment, allowing us to offer it to many more patients. We are already excited at the potential this technology has, not just for us but for our many colleagues in the Trust in perform keyhole surgery. The equipment can be moved easily between theatres so any specialty could benefit. Ultimately we are aiming for a better patient outcome at a cost that will benefit the NHS."