Video game tech helps surgeons

September 4, 2009 2:38:08 AM PDT
The medical community is finding some valuable new uses for video gaming technology. The 3-D glasses and video game controllers are among the new tools helping surgeons in the operating room.

The medical community is finding some valuable new uses for video gaming technology. The 3-D glasses and video game controllers are among the new tools helping surgeons in the operating room. The concept of using technology to look inside the human body is already fodder for the movies.

But now science "fiction" has become science "fact" at Methodist Hospital. This is where doctors are using 3-D technology to view the human body like never before.

"This is like a completely new frontier," said Chairman Dr. Brian Butler with Methodist Hospital Radiation Oncology Department.

A new frontier where doctors visualize or "travel" under the skin -- through bones, muscle and blood vessels -- to the exact location requiring medical attention. It gives them the ability to "preview" a procedure before they actually go into the operating room.

"So now when a patient goes into the operating room you can almost create a virtual patient through this visualization process and say what am I gonna do when I go into the operating room and find out any pitfalls you're gonna have before you operate on that particular patient," said Dr. Butler.

Doctors have used the 2-dimensional look inside a patient for years. But with the new technology doctors can see much more detailed and accurately in the same area. It's done in a military-like command center featuring a touch-screen monitor, 3-d glasses and a videogame controller.

"You can look at the underside of the liver and heart," said liver surgeon, Dr. Thomas Aloia with Methodist Hospital.

"The advance of this technology is to convert the 2-dimensional to the 3-dimensional and then be working in volumes, which is what we're working in real life," said Aloia

Which means surgeons like Dr. Aloia, can operate with added confidence.

"It's made us more accurate," said Dr. Aloia.

Dr. Butler says the technology can also help patients better understand their own disease process, which could put them more at ease before surgery.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter.

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