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A high-resolution, three-dimensional thin endoscope for fetal surgery



Fetal surgery is receiving considerable attention. However, surgeons must have great skill to perform this surgery. For assisting with the operation, the three-dimensional (3D) endoscope is very useful because it allows the surgeon depth perception. However, the diameter of existing 3D endoscopes is approximately 10 mm. Therefore, the authors have developed a high-resolution, thin, 3D endoscope for use in fetal surgery.


The authors’ system uses two 1/10-in. micro charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras at the tip of the endoscope and achieves a diameter of 5.4 mm. The endoscope’s angle of convergence is 2.6º, which very closely approximates the angle of convergence for humans. Thus, the surgeon experiences little visual fatigue. The view angle is 87º.


The authors compared image quality and depth perception between their system and conventional 3D and 2D endoscopes. Theoretical investigation of image quality allowed the surgeon to distinguish a line 0.2 to 0.25 mm wide. Furthermore, the depth perception with the thin 3D endoscope was almost the same as with an 11-mm normal 3D endoscope. In addition, with the 3D endoscope, a higher percentage of questions were answered correctly in the depth perception evaluation experiment in a water environment than with the 2D instrument.


According to these experiments, the thin 3D endoscope has a sufficiently high image quality and depth perception even in a water environment.

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This research was supported by in part by Health and Labor Sciences Research Grants of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan and JSPS (#18680041).

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Correspondence to E. Kobayashi.

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Kobayashi, E., Ando, T., Yamashita, H. et al. A high-resolution, three-dimensional thin endoscope for fetal surgery. Surg Endosc 23, 2450 (2009).

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  • 3D endoscope
  • Depth perception evaluation
  • Endoscopic surgery
  • Fetal surgery