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Wednesday, May 19, 1999 Published at 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK


3D camera revolutionises reconstructive surgery

3D image of a torso produced by the camera

By BBC Scotland Health Correspondent Abeer Parkes.

A 3D imaging camera being developed by scientists in Glasgow is set to revolutionise the treatment of cleft lip and breast reconstruction patients.

The camera will allow doctors to assess to within a fraction of a centimetre the most appropriate corrective surgery.

Up to now doctors treating babies with cleft palates or women requiring breast reconstruction or reduction have had to rely on experience and guess work during surgery.

The new camera, which mimicks the function of the human eye, can now be used to provide a 3D image which can help them plan reconstructive surgery more accurately and therefore more effectively.

Wriggly babies

[ image: The 3D camera has been developed in Scotland]
The 3D camera has been developed in Scotland
It is particularly helpful in treating wriggly young babies as the image is captured in a tenth of a second.

The camera can also be used to assess facial animation to ensure any operation allows the child's facial expressions to be as normal as possible.

Investigations are continuing into whether the technology can also help detect the first stages of breast cancer.

Although it is still in the research stage, the camera is being used in a number of Scottish hospitals and if a recently submitted lottery application is successful, it could be expanded made available in the rest of the UK.

'Wide availability'

The director of the Faraday Partnership based at Glasgow University, Dr Paul Siebert, said he believed all hospital equipment will soon be changed to produce 3D images.

This would enable doctors to assess the extent of swollen flesh and scar tissue, to name but two examples, and assess the develpment of a disease or even aid diagnosis, he said.

He says the digital cameras used for this technique are cheap,fast and effective making them an attractive option.

Dr Ashraf Ayoub-an oral Surgeon at Glasgow's Dental Hospital, says half a dozen children have already taken part in the project although it is too early to tell the results.

But he is confident it will help them achieve a near normal look by the time they reach their late teens.

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