It makes for an atypical day at the Ramapo Valley Surgical Center when a Bergen County-based NBC 4 New York news team joins the staff in the locker room and slips into their scrubs.
Anyone going inside of the operating room must be fitted in a shirt, pants, face mask and surgeon cap to ensure the operating room remains sterile. The patient was stable, and his condition was non-life threatening.
A complication from diabetes had caused his eye to fill with blood and his retina to detach. The procedure is quick and altogether routine. What made headlines was the unique approach provided by this Ramapo Valley practice.
Ramapo Valley Surgical Center is one of a very few surgical centers in America that implements a 3-D camera and monitor in eye surgeries such as this. Surgeon Dr. Patrick Higgins places his custom-fitted 3-D glasses over his nose and proceeds with what will be a 19 minute, minimally invasive eye surgery. All the while he is never looking down, but instead keeps a steady eye on the 55-inch screen sitting in from of him. The 3-D monitor gives an ultra-high-definition image of the field of view and provides a sense of depth that becomes increasingly important when working with the microscopic membranes of the eye.
Dr. Higgins was kind enough to allow the camera crew to station just behind the screen and witness the revolutionary technology in action. Step by step, he walked the room through the procedure. First inserting trocars, a canal-like passage common in vitreoretinal surgery, to gain access to the inner eye.
He then swiftly drained the hemorrhage and evacuated, leaving no open wounds that would warrant stitching. When all was done, the news crew got some final words from Higgins before leaving to finalize their story for NBC News. The same could not be said for Dr. Higgins, who had five more operations that same day.
A week after the story aired on NBC, Dr. Higgins had 5,000 visits to his website and the Surgical Center has already booked 17 cases from patients who saw the story. We were happy to play a small role in making this sight-saving surgery available to more people through this PR initiative.