'This new technology gives us hope': BC Children's gets 3D technology for throat, neck and ear procedures
VANCOUVER -- Every two months, seven-year-old Charlee needs to have growths surgically removed from her airways. She's already had more than 40 surgeries in her life to help manage a rare condition that has no known cure.
However, BC Children's Hospital has recently become the first in the country to get 3D endoscopic surgical technology, which could change the way Charlee gets the procedures needed for her recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
"Living with this condition has been hard for our family. Although Charlee temporarily gets her breathing and voice back after each surgery, it's only a matter of time before she gets hoarse again and her breathing becomes laboured and more difficult—which signals to us that it's time once again to make the trip from our home in Nanaimo to Vancouver for her next operation," said Kathleen Andrews, Charlee's mom, in a news release.
"This new technology gives us hope that it will help lengthen the amount of time between procedures so that she won't have to go through so many."
The high-precision system will help with complex nose, ear and throat procedures by giving medical experts a higher level of visual clarity on those delicate parts of the body. In turn, that's expected to help improve the safety of these surgeries and allow surgeons to use techniques that weren't possible with a 2D perspective.
"Imagine the highly precise degree of visibility that surgeons need when performing minimally-invasive surgery on the delicate internal ear, nose and throat structures of children, which are much smaller in size than those of adults," said Dr. Neil Chadha, head, division of pediatric otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at BC Children's Hospital in the release.
"For example, the width of a young child’s voice box opening can be as small as five millimeters across—roughly the size of pea."
The technology, which the hospital got with support from Hollyburn Properties, will also help surgeons see small structures in the head and neck more realistically. For example, they'll be able to identify layers of tissues and understand the amount of space between structures in the middle ear.
"For families like Charlee's, this innovative technology is expected to not only lengthen the amount of time she can go between surgical procedures, but to also reduce the degree of damage to the tissues that occurs with repeated surgery," Chadha said.
"This is what the superior 3D visibility of this technology makes possible. It's transforming the way we're able to operate, right before our eyes. It represents the future of surgical ENT care and minimally-invasive techniques."