How Much Stereoscopic Effect Does Laparoscopy Need? Controlled, Prospective Randomized Trial on Surgical Task Efficiency in Standardized Phantom Tasks

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Background. To regain 2-eyed vision in laparoscopy, dual-channeled optics have been introduced. With this optics design, the distance between the 2 front lenses defines how much stereoscopic effect is seen. This study quantifies the impact of an enhanced and a reduced stereo effect on surgical task efficiency. Methods. A prospective single-blinded study was performed with 20 laparoscopic novices in an inanimate experimental setting. A standard bichannelled stereo system was used to perform a suturing and knotting task. The working distance and the task size were scaled to vary the stereo effect and, thereby, simulate hypothetic stereo optics with enhanced and reduced optical bases. The task performances were timed, and the number of trials for stitching out was counted. The participants finally filled out a questionnaire to collect subjective impressions. Results. The increase of the stereo effect by 50% caused no objective improvement in laparoscopic knotting compared with typical 3D (control group with stereo basis of 4.5 mm). But ergonomic disadvantages (headache) were subjectively reported in 1 of 20 cases in the questionnaire. The reduction of the stereo effect by one-third led to a significantly longer average execution time. There was no significant dependence found between stereo effect and number of stich-out trials, stitching precision, or knotting quality. Conclusions. Considering laparoscopy, it does not seem advisable to enhance the stereo effect because of ergonomic problems. Otherwise, a miniaturization of the 3D scope (5 mm version) is problematic because its benefit mostly shrinks with the reduced stereo effect.

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