So, how did I get there? Neither Bob nor I were too keen at first, afraid we may pass-out in the operating theater, but when Professor Grolman invites you in to his ‘home’, you put on the scrubs, and you march on in there!
Professor Grolman is the Head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surger y at the University Medical Center in Utrecht (UMC Utrecht). He specializes in Otology (ear surgery), with a special focus on Cochlear Implantation and Stapes surgery. He is also the co-founder of the Live International Otolaryngology Network (LION), a worldwide video conferencing network dedicated to Otolaryngology. When he talks about his work as a surgeon, and his work as a teacher, you are totally captivated.
On this occasion, he was particularly enthusiastic, and with good reason. Professor Grolman is a strong believer in knowledge sharing, and committed to teaching the next generation of surgeons. At UMCU he has the responsibility of training 18 ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) residents. He regularly webcasts live his surgeries for all students to watch and interact with him, as he explains in detail, each action, each meticulous movement, each cut he has to make. This is a great opportunity to learn, and the only thing missing, the only thing that would make this even better, would be to see exactly what the surgeon sees through his microscope, to have the exact same perception of orientation and depth as the surgeon. And this was done for the first time while I was there, with Polycom broadcasting two surgeries, the same day, in 3D. So you can understand why he was so enthused!
For the first surgery, we sat with the students and watched the broadcast in a conference room. We listened to the professor explaining each movement. My first reaction was surprise at how deep the ear canal actually is! I had never seen one up close! And never with a pair of 3D glasses! The students were blown away by what they were seeing. They all commented on how different this was compared to watching the same surgery, in 2D. Now they completely understood, now they really see. This is revolutionary! And it’s easy to understand why. These are very complicated surgeries. The ear canal is tiny and the tools used to enter the canal are thin. The surgeon removes a minuscule ossicle and replaces it with a prosthesis that is less than 4 millimeters long! There is no room for error; each move is precise and accurate. Set aside the fact you are looking deep into someone’s inner ear, the surgeon’s work is fascinating. He uses an operating microscope to see inside the ear canal, and has the excellent 3D view of the surgical field, and now with Polycom able to transmit 3D live broadcast, this same view is available to all!
When it was time for the second surgery, Bob and I were invited to experience it live from inside the operating theater. We were given scrubs. As I was changing, removing my jewelry, I started to have knots in my stomach! Then I saw my reflection and saw Meredith Grey! We all look the same in scrubs no?
There was no time to hesitate, cold feet were not an option, I met up with Bob, who looked a little pale…and in we went. The Polycom GroupSeries was in the theater, which brought us comfort! A familiar face! A large screen was in the theater broadcasting the microscope view in 3D. And so everyone in the theater, the nurses, the two ENT residents, the two anesthetists, all was wearing 3D glasses. So here we are in scrubs, masks and 3D glasses! What an experience! The professor was a great host in his home. He put us at ease from the start by telling us the worst that could happen, was we pass-out, he takes pictures, and makes fun of us! But we witnessed it all. We lived the moment of seeing the Polycom innovations in action for the first time in a real situation with great pride!
As I changed back into my civilian cloth, said good bye to Meredith, and ran off to catch my train back to Paris with my head held high, I knew I had I had witnessed something exceptional:
The first 3D broadcast live of a surgery. Forever changing medical and surgical education.
To learn more about 3D and Polycom please visit our web site.
To know more about UCM Utrecht please visit their web site.
To learn more about the LION network please visit this site