Date: October 2004.
Source: Herald Sun, Australia.
Article: 3D Breakthrough: Picture Perfect Surgery

Evie Rosa, 5, is a different girl after an operation six weeks ago to enlarge her skull.

Five-year-old Evie suffered scaphocephaly, a condition where the head is disproportionately long and narrow after the premature fusion of bones in the skull. During surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital (, doctors moved parts of her skull to make it larger and reduce pressure on her brain.

Surgeons carrying out delicate surgery such as Evie’s in future will have a perfect 3D model of their patient on which to prepare and plan the surgery. This week the plastic and maxillofacial surgery department was given a $150,000 AUD camera that produces a dimensionally accurate 3D image of a patient in less than 2 milliseconds.

RCH director of plastic and maxillofacial surgery John Meara said the 3dMD digital camera gave doctors an exact 3D model of their patient.

“Now we have a replica of these patients on which to do all sorts of different analysis and measurements… and the patient can be at home,” Associate Professor Meara said.

Professor Meara said the camera would help with pre-operative diagnosis, planning of treatments, and assessing and auditing surgery results. Audits of surgery will be more accurate using the new camera, which can monitor soft tissue changes in patients of less than a millimetre.

“From a research standpoint it will allow us to collaborate with other children’s hospitals around the world, look at techniques and outcomes, and allow us to collaborate in clinical analysis and research.”

While initially used for plastic and maxillofacial surgery, Professor Meara predicted the technology would help thousands of patients across many surgical fields.

“For someone like Evie, we will be able to go into surgery with much more accurate detail about what deformity there is. If we have to move certain segments of the skull or face, we will have much more accurate detail about how much to move certain things and in what direction.”

Professor Meara said in future, the 3D patient models could also be used to train and re-certify surgeons.

“Time is approaching when surgeons will be able to perform virtual surgery on a computer using the digital image prior to the actual surgery on the patient.