Introduction: Many operative specialties rely on the use of microscopes and endoscopes for visualizing operative fields
in minimally invasive or microsurgical interventions. Conventional optical devices present relevant details only to the
surgeon or one assisting professional. Advances in information technology have propagated stereoscopic visual
information to all operative theatre personnel in real time, which, in turn, adds to the load of complex technical devices
to be handled and maintained in operative theatres.
Material and methods: In the last six years, we have been using conventional (SD, 720 x 576 pixels) and high
definition (1280 x 720 pixels) stereoscopic video cameras attached to conventional operative microscopes either in
parallel to direct visualization of the operative field or as all-digital processing of the operative image for the surgeon
including all other staff. Aspects included the type of display used, image quality, time delay due to image processing,
visual comfort, time consumption in set-up, ease of use as well as robustness of the system.
Results: General acceptance of stereoscopic display technology is high as all staff members are able to share the same
visual information. The use of stereo cameras in parallel to direct visualization or as only visualization device mostly
depended on image quality and personal preference of the surgeon. Predominant general factors are robustness, ease of
use and additional time consumption imposed by setup and handling. Visual comfort was noted as moderately important
as there was wide variability between staff members. Type of display used and post-processing issues were regarded less
important. Time delay induced by the video chain was negligible.
Conclusion: The additional information given by stereoscopic video processing in real time outweighs the extra effort
for handling and maintenance. However, further integration with existing technology and with the general workflow
enhances acceptance especially in units with high turnover of operative procedures.