International Ophthalmology

, Volume 39, Issue 10, pp 2353–2359 | Cite as

Learning curve of three-dimensional heads-up vitreoretinal surgery for treating macular holes: a prospective study

  • Renato Menezes PaláciosEmail author
  • Andre Maia
  • Michel Eid Farah
  • Mauricio Maia
Original Paper



To compare surgeons’ opinions regarding idiopathic full-thickness macular hole (MH) surgery by using traditional microscopy and three-dimensional (3-D) visualization system. To analyze the required time for pars plana vitrectomy (PPV) and for internal limiting membrane (ILM) rhexis by using both visualization methods. To evaluate anatomical surgical results.


Four surgeons (surgeon 1, fellows 1, 2, 3) performed the total of 40 surgeries for treating MHs. Each one performed 10 surgeries (5 with traditional microscopy and 5 with 3-D visualization). The completion time for PPV and ILM rhexis was determined by using both methods. Ergonomics, educational value, image sharpness, depth perception, field of view and technical skills were analyzed through answering a questionnaire.


Forty patients were included in the study. The MH size for surgeon 1, fellows 1, 2 and 3 groups, individually, ranged from 237 to 602 μm; 228 to 590 μm, 271 to 611 μm and 289 to 600 μm, respectively. In the 3-D and in the traditional microscopy subgroups (which includes all 4 physicians on the use of one or the other method), the MH size ranged from 228 to 602 μm and 237 to 611 μm, respectively. Comparisons between the average time for full PPV and ILM rhexis by using the two methods were non-significant, neither in each individual case of 3-D surgery for each surgeon. Surgeon 1 had always been faster than his fellows. Depth perception was rated as similar for both methods. Field of view and educational values were rated as superior when using the 3-D system. Image resolution and ergonomics were rated as superior when using traditional microscopy. Technical skills strongly tended toward ‘superiority’ when using traditional microscopy. Thirty-six (90%) full-thickness MHs were successfully closed with one surgery.


The 3-D system for MH surgery had a short learning curve and was a refined educational tool, when used with reduced illumination and precise focus. Concerning MH surgery, heads-up method was similar to traditional microscopy regarding length of time and anatomical surgical results. Heads-up surgery may become a new pattern for ophthalmic surgery as ongoing improvements are applied.


Chromovitrectomy Full-thickness macular hole Heads-up surgery 3-D Microscope Learning curve 



The authors have no financial interest in any aspect of this report.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renato Menezes Palácios
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andre Maia
    • 1
  • Michel Eid Farah
    • 1
  • Mauricio Maia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology-RetinaFederal University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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