A GREENOCK cancer patient has taken part in a pioneering trial which allows doctors to carry out consultations remotely in 3D.

Paul Fitzgerald, 55, signed up for a ground-breaking project which uses technology to examine patients who are not in the same room as medics.

The project uses Microsoft's Holoportation communication technology and enables models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world.

It is the first time it has been used in a clinical setting, allowing consultant plastic surgeon Professor Steven Lo, to treat and examine patients in their own homes.

Paul said: "About two years ago I discovered a lump on the back of my leg and I was diagnosed with a sarcoma cancer.

"Professor Lo asked me if I would be interested in taking part in the Holoportation technology trial and I was able to come and see a demonstration of how it would work.

“The benefits it gives as a patient are great.

"You don’t have to move around, the cameras give the consultant a full view of you and I found that it gave me a better understanding of my situation, as I could see everything on the screen.

"I think it helps inform patients, without upsetting them and without the need for loads of different meetings.

“Although you’re not in the same room, you still get a full and in-depth consultation.”

The project stemmed from discussions between Professor Lo and a Microsoft research team in 2019 and was initially looking at low to middle income countries.

But Covid 19 changed the focus to clinical testing in Glasgow the following year.

This allowed the research team to see immuno-compromised patients in a safe and socially distanced way.

Professor Lo, who is based at Canniesburn Plastic Surgery and Burns Unit in Glasgow, said: “We have patients that may have to travel up to five hours or maybe even have to take a plane from one of the islands to come for a consultation or physiotherapy with a specialist.

"We hope that this technology can be brought to remote communities to allow us to see patients in a much more convenient way for them, while retaining the same level of detail as an in-person consultation.

“Microsoft’s Holoportation communication technology was hugely beneficial during the height of the pandemic, where seeing patients face-to-face was a challenge.

"We have had really positive feedback from the patients who have been part of the trial.

"As we progress to the randomised trial stage, we hope to see more encouraging results with the view of one day bringing a service to people in remote parts of the country.”

Spencer Fowers, principal researcher at Microsoft, added: "By allowing doctors and clinicians to see patients in 3D, together we are advancing the state of the art and creating a better, higher fidelity experience to support organisations like the NHS to expand their services to rural and under-served communities."