In a national first, Macquarie University Hospital trials a cutting-edge digital visualisation system for ophthalmic surgery that will bring benefits to people needing cataract or other retinal surgeries.

Under the guidance of Associate Professor I-Van Ho, Macquarie University Hospital has become the first hospital in Australia to trial a new digital 3-D visualisation system for Vitreoretinal and Cataract Surgery. Notably, the NGENUITY® Visualisation System replaces the use of a microscope with a High Dynamic Range (HDR) camera, which provides excellent resolution, image depth, clarity and colour contrast.

With this superior 3-D view, the surgeon and operating theatre staff now have a level of depth perception not previously available on standard television monitors, which are often used in operation theatres today.

“The digitised technology brings several additional benefits that contribute to safer surgery,” explained Associate Professor Ho, Vitreoretinal Surgeon and Macular Disease Specialist who is also an Associate Professor and Head of Ophthalmic Surgery at Macquarie University Hospital. From a surgeon’s point of view, we can use filters to enhance different tissue layers. A green filter, for example, applied to the red of blood vessels allows them to stand out in high-definition black, making differentiation of retinal tissue much more accurate.

“The equipment also has digital overlay technology, allowing us to correlate what we see in clinics pre-operatively, such as the OCT [optical coherence tomography] images of the macula, allowing the surgeon to perform a safer and more complete surgery. Coupled with the new technology of intra-operative OCT, the point-to-point registration for optimum surgery is amazing. The other benefit of the digital imaging system is that it requires less light than a traditional microscope system, as with digital as opposed to film-based cameras. This will serve to reduce potential phototoxic trauma to the eye.”

Macquarie University Hospital already offers some of the most advanced Retinal and Cataract surgery in the country, with the potential for a permanent NGENUITY® acquisition ensuring the hospital remains a national leader in this field. It also has the first private hospital teaching clinic in Australia, drawing some of the most respected specialists and surgeons to the hospital.

“The potential for teaching, using the NGENUITY® system, would open up huge possibilities,” said Professor Ho, who is also Vitreoretinal Surgeon and Director of Vitreoretinal Fellowship at Sydney Eye Hospital.

“The digital nature of the technology means that the operating field can be accessed by everyone in the operating room in 3-D, similar to a 3-D movie theatre.

“For the first time, I am able to have more than one trainee surgeon observing my surgery in 3-D at the same time. Even my experienced operating theatre nurse has commented on how, for the first time, she can appreciate what I do in 3D, which helps her assist me better during surgery.”

The technology also opens the possibility of telemedicine surgery where a surgeon could potentially train and assist surgeons on the other side of the country or in rural or remote areas.

Executive Director Carol Bryant said that Macquarie University Hospital was excited to be moving towards Digitally Assisted Vitreoretinal Surgery, or DAVS.

“Currently we are one of several sites in the world to have access to this new technology – the others being in the US and Europe,” said Ms Bryant. Associate Professor Ho and his team have led retinal surgery at Macquarie University Hospital to become the excellent centre that it is, keeping the Hospital at the forefront of ophthalmology surgery.

“With the vast majority of people needing some form of ophthalmic and retinal surgery as they age – particularly cataract surgery – we will be looking closely at the NGENUITY® trial period as we consider investing in this technology for the future.”