Using a simple video game technology may allow cardiac surgeons to perform beating-heart surgical procedures by providing ultrasound of images of the beating heart, experts at Children's Hospital Boston have indicated.
The researchers have revealed that that this technology is known as 'stereo glasses'.
They say that the basic idea is to split computer images in two, and cock them at slightly different angles.
Once that is done, they add, users can see ultrasound images of the beating heart as a hologram by wearing gamers' flickering glasses.
"You definitely have depth perception. You feel like you're inside the heart chamber," says Dr. Nikolay Vasilyev of Children's department of cardiac surgery.
The surgeon has already tested the glasses while operating on pigs with an atrial septal defect, a common form of congenital heart disease in which there is a hole in the wall dividing the heart's upper chambers.
He closed each defect using a catheter carrying a tiny patch, threaded into the heart through a vein. He fastened the patch around the hole with tiny anchors using another device.
In all, he placed 64 anchors-32 under standard 3D ultrasound guidance, and 32 using the stereoscopic vision display.
Dr. Vasilyev says that the stereoscopic display enabled him to place the anchors 44 per cent faster than with the standard display.
He believes that the ability to precisely navigate tools inside the beating heart will minimize risk to neighbouring heart structures.
He has even revealed that clinical trials of beating-heart surgery with the patching system could begin in children with ASDs this year.
The NIH-funded study has been reported in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.