DoD's First 3-D Laparoscopy Performed at Walter Reed

The Pentagon says an Army doctor performed the U.S. military's first 3-D minimally invasive surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., last week. Col. (Dr.) Ernest Lockrow, director of the Telerobotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery Center, wore a helmet with 3-D capabilities to perform a hysterectomy, according to an article posted by DoD and written by Kristin Ellis, a Stripe staff writer at the center.

To perform minimally invasive surgery, also known as laparoscopy, the surgeon makes tiny incisions and employs a tiny video camera to guide the procedure. Typical laparoscopy is done with a two-dimensional display, but the new three-dimensional headset offers much-needed depth perception, Ellis wrote. "What the three-dimensional procedure now gives is a camera for each eye, so the surgeon can now see just as he was operating in a general, open procedure," Lockrow said in her report. "When you're used to operating in two dimensions and then you go to three dimensions, it just makes it so much easier. We actually had a fellow who has not done a lot of laparoscopic surgery and was able to easily grasp the laparoscopic procedure in three dimensions."

It will be possible to have specialists located remotely assist in surgeries if both practitioners are wearing the helmet, which is a goal for the military, Lockrow said.

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