3D goggles should improve ear, nose, throat surgery at B.C. Children’s

Kathleen Andrews of Nanaimo, left, and her daughter Charlee, right. Charlee has endured more than 40 surgeries at B.C. Children’s Hospital to remove recurring growths from her airways. She is benefitting from Canada’s first 3D endoscopic surgical technology at the hospital.

Adam Foster / Postmedia News

New, high-precision 3D endoscopic technology for delicate ear, nose and throat surgery was unveiled Wednesday at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

The technology, the first of its kind in Canada, has already been put to use and has inspired hope for one Nanaimo family.

Nanaimo mother Kathleen Andrews said she knew something was wrong with her little girl Charlee almost from the beginning. Charlee’s breathing was noisy at times, she wasn’t learning to speak like other toddlers and when she attempted to speak the most she could manage was a whisper.

“She didn’t get diagnosed until she was two,” said Andrews.

The diagnosis of recurrent respiratory papillomatosif, a condition that causes growths on the vocal cords and in the respiratory tract, obstructs her breathing and impedes her ability to use her voice. There is no known cure for the rare condition and, until now, treatment involved surgeries to laser or debride the growths.

“Since the diagnosis Charlee has had 68 surgeries to debride the papillomas,” said Andrews. Five were emergency surgeries. The process was traumatic for the whole family. Little Charlee was afraid of IVs, doctors, nurses and was often crying and distraught, said Andrews.

The new technology will allow her surgeon, Dr. Neil Chadha, to target the surgical site with greater precision, thus lengthening the time between surgeries and reduce the degree of damage to the tissues.

“The width of a young child’s voice box opening can be as small as five millimetres across — roughly the size of a pea,” said Dr. Chadha in a statement.

“For families like Charlee’s, this innovative technology is expected to not only lengthen the amount of time she can go between surgical procedures, but also reduce the degree of damage to the tissues that occurs with repeated surgery.

“This is what the superior 3D visibility of this technology makes possible. It’s transforming the way we are able to operate, right before our eyes. It represents the future of surgical ENT care and minimally-invasive techniques.”

Charlee, a Grade 2 student, had her first surgery with the new technology Monday. “It was a big day for us,” said Andrews.

The acquisition of the 3D endoscopic technology was made possible with the support of Hollyburn Properties.

“We are proud to support B.C. Children’s Hospital and to enable the hospital to become home to Canada’s first 3D endoscopic system,” said Hollyburn in a statement.


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