But now there is a new kind of 3-D, for repairing the heart, and it comes with a tiny robot doing the toughest part of the job. In the movies, virtual reality is part of daily life. But in some areas of medicine, it's in fact how doctors are now beginning to cure their patients.
Dr. Kousik Krishnan is fixing the beat of a patient's heart, though it may seem as if he's at the helm of a video game.
"...went to the doctor, my heart was beating at 186 a minute so they got me to the hospital."
John Seraphin says after three years of episodes, he hopes this will permanently prevent his heart from going into a potentially dangerous rhythm. So, the doctor snakes a catheter into john's heart and attaches him to a half million dollar robot called Sensei. He takes control from the room next door. Dr. Krishnan now creates a 3-D virtual image of John's heart as he lies unconscious then identifies the exact spot for the procedure using these images. The doc then directs the robot through the delicate process of shaving away a tiny bit of abdominal heart tissue, hoping to reroute the heart's electrical impulses so it will beat normally again.
"This three dimensional image allows me to know precisely where i am at all times. The robot knows which views I'm in so i can always be driving the catheter."
In essence, enhancing what the doctor knows of the patient with real time virtual images, and then harnessing that to the precision and tirelessness of a robot.
"Once we're confident it's really gone, we remove all the catheters."
It's only the second time for this procedure at rush university medical center, but just as movies imagine the future, doctors here hope technology may soon allow them to fix what they couldn't fix before.