Using 3D Technology in the Operating Room

Using 3D Technology in the Operating Room

Surgeons are using those same 3-D glasses that folks use at the movies in the OR!
What do the new hit “gravity,” the block buster film “Avatar,” and the latest version of “Alice in Wonderland” all have in common with the latest developments in the operating room? The same 3D glasses movie goers put on for these movies are being used by doctors in the OR.

“I think it’s amazing.  I mean to see technology work its miracle on me?” Shantese Wilkinson told Ivanhoe.

The miracle is a simple pair of 3D glasses that Shantese Wilkinson’s surgeon used to remove a tumor from her brain.

“It ultimately would have probably killed her, but it would have blinded her first,” Mark Eisenberg, MD, FAANS, Chief, Dept. of Neurosurgery, LIJ Medical Center, Director, Skull Base Center, Cushing Neuroscience Institute, North Shore-LIJ Health System, told Ivanhoe.

Neurosurgeon Mark Eisenberg opened Shantese’s skull. This endoscope with a special camera snaked through her nose, to her brain. 

The reality of 3D comes in here.

The new camera sensor is a microchip located at the end of the endoscope. It allows doctors to see on screen, with true depth perception, what the tumor looks like, and precisely where it is. So they can remove it more accurately, safely, and get more of the tumor out than before.

“Having the knowledge of the anatomy, having the visual cues, and having it in 3D makes it easier to make a safe dissection,” B. Todd Schaeffer, MD, FACS, Associate Chair Dept. of Otolaryngology, North Shore University Hospital Manhasset at North Shore LIJ Health System, told Ivanhoe.

Her surgery was a success. Now, this recent college grad is ready for a little reality of her own as she begins her career as an assistant train conductor.

The camera on that endoscope the doctors used is only four millimeters in size! That’s about the size of a drinking straw.

BACKGROUND: A brain tumor is defined as a mass of tissue that forms due to an accumulation of odd cells.  As of today, there is no known cause of brain tumors, but there are known risk factors that, if present, can help prevent developing one. Radiation and age are common risk factors, but they’re not always the case. A common misconception of brain tumors is that they are all cancerous. This is not true, but may occur depending on your genetic makeup, exposure, lifestyle choices, etc. There are two types of tumors: benign and malignant. (Source:
BENIGN TUMORS: Benign tumors are tumors that are non-cancerous. This type of tumor is clearly defined and is easier to remove because it is not deeply rooted in the brain tissue. Although they can be safely operated on, it does not mean that they will not return. Malignant and benign tumors can be reoccurring, but benign tumors run a smaller risk of reoccurrence. (Source:
MALIGNANT TUMORS: This type of tumor is cancerous and very detrimental to a person’s health. Malignant tumors grow faster in the brain and are more likely to spread to different regions. The nervous system, organs, and other parts of the brain can all be affected by a malignant tumor and can leave damage to surrounding cells. (Source:
NEW TECHNOLOGY: 3D glasses that are used in movie theaters are now being used in the operating room. Doctors at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York are performing operations on patients with benign and malignant brain tumors with the help of these special glasses. The endoscopic procedure is called the skull-based tumor treatment. This procedure uses a 3D endoscope camera that is the size of a few millimeters. This camera is surgically inserted through the nose as it pinpoints the location of the tumor. To view the images from the 3D endoscope camera, doctors must wear the 3D glasses that perform the same function as when watching a 3D movie. The 3D view allows doctors to see the critical structures with the depth perception from the glasses. (Source:

Mark Eisenberg, MD, FAANS
Chief, Department of Neurosurgery at LIJ Medical Center
Director, Skull Base Center
Cushing Neuroscience Institute
North Shore-LIJ Health System
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