First HD 3D Laparoscopic Surgical Video System in South Africa proving its mettle

Precision technology improves speed, accuracy and safety of laparoscopic procedures

Wednesday, July 23 2014

With the introduction of South Africa’s first Olympus articulating high-definition (HD) three-dimensional (3D) laparoscopic surgical video system at Netcare Sunward Park Hospital in Boksburg, Gauteng, private healthcare group, Netcare, has again clearly demonstrated its commitment to remain at the forefront of healthcare innovation.

“Netcare is focused on providing quality healthcare to patients. We therefore continue to invest in world class infrastructure and technology that will ensure better clinical outcomes and efficiencies while enhancing patient safety and the overall patient experience,” comments Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s Hospital Division.

“In recent years there has been much talk about 3D technology which helps recreate realistic representations of the world. 3D cinemas and television sets have, for instance, become highly popular and the technology also has much to offer in the field of medicine. The state-of-the-art 3D technology, which was installed at Netcare Sunward Park Hospital in February, enables surgeons to perform laparoscopic procedures with improved precision and speed.

In the five months since its installation, the new system has proved its mettle, with approximately 200 successful cases having been completed. “The fairly substantial reduction in operating time brought about by the system is particularly meaningful in terms of patient safety, recovery time and length of hospital stay, and is also more cost-efficient,” adds Du Plessis.

According to Du Plessis, Dr Francois Schutte, an experienced laparoscopic surgeon who specialises in endoscopic surgery of the stomach and oesophagus, and an esteemed member of the European Surgical Forum (2011), became involved in the 3D system and was instrumental in Netcare’s decision to bring the Olympus HD 3D system to South Africa. Dr Schutte said the safety and efficacy of the system with regards to laparoscopic procedures is now proven.

Laparoscopy, also known as minimally invasive or keyhole surgery, is a specialised, modern surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen, pelvis or chest without having to make large incisions. The surgeon uses an instrument known as a laparoscope, which is a small tube that has a light source and a camera, to relay images of the internal anatomy to a television monitor.

According to Dr Schutte, “This technology is far superior to traditional 2D surgical systems because it provides greater depth perception and precision, which is often lost when surgeons migrate from open to laparoscopic surgery. The lack of depth perception of the tissue being operated on in traditional laparoscopic surgery may present a significant problem for some surgeons.”

The sophisticated design of the system enables the surgeon to obtain a much better view of the internal organs via HD 3D images. Two charge-coupled image sensors are located at the ends of the laparoscope to provide left and right images respectively. These two image signals are processed by a special purpose video system to generate HD 3D images which are then displayed on a 3D monitor, which delivers enhanced image quality, added brightness and several key technologies such as HD TV for superior clarity. The surgeon views the images through 3D glasses which provide a realistic, 3D picture that is far better than the 2D flat images used in traditional laparoscopic procedures.

The flexible, articulating-tip design of the laparoscope also allows the surgeon to peer around organs and anatomical structures, which is not possible with fixed angle laparoscopes. According to Dr Schutte, “this supports faster and more accurate laparoscopic surgery because the surgeon can perform more precise grasping, dissection and suturing, which can reduce operating time by approximately 25%.”

In addition, because minimally invasive procedures generally require smaller incisions than traditional open surgery, there is less blood loss, fewer complications and the patient also has less scarring, better cosmetic results and significantly reduced pain. The body can heal much faster which results in shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery. The patient is therefore able to return to normal daily activities much sooner, “The addition of the 3D video platform restores the natural vision which is lacking in 2D laparoscopic procedures and provides better magnification of internal organs and structures. You can literally see every single nerve. It therefore considerably reduces the chance of surgical error and translates into a more accurate and definitive procedure for patients,” he explains.

Dr Schutte has, so far, performed over 200 laparoscopic surgeries using the sophisticated technology. According to International estimates as stated at the 14th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery recently held in France, by 2020, 80% of laparoscopic procedures will be done in 3D.

“We are committed to retaining our position of leadership in the surgical field and to provide our specialists with technology that enables them to offer patients cutting-edge, cost-effective and minimally invasive surgical options. The 3D system has been proven to be an excellent tool for performing complex laparoscopic surgeries. I am confident that this is a giant leap ahead for minimally invasive surgery in South Africa,” concludes Du Plessis.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Sunward Park
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick and Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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