Stories tagged surgery

Surgery robot?: I think this is the surgical robot we will see.
Surgery robot?: I think this is the surgical robot we will see.Courtesy The da Vinci® S™ Surgical System
I'm not exactly sure what this will entail, but the Science Museum of Minnesota's internal newsletter states:

Regions Hospital invites you to operate the da Vinci surgical system. On Wednesday, September 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the robot will be on display in the museum's Human Body Gallery. Practice your surgical moves and learn how futuristic robotic-aided surgery is helping people.

So if you wanna do some play future surgery, come on down.

OK, not "on this day." A few days ago. Well, two weeks ago, but the BRIEFING was today. Anyway, in a marathon operation lasting 22 hours, surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio performed the first face transplant surgery in the United States--replacing 80% of a female patient's face. (This surgery has been done only a few times, and was big news when the world's first face transplant, on Isabelle Dinoire, took place in France in 2006.) More details to come in the next few days.


A bin of spares: for future-babies.
A bin of spares: for future-babies.Courtesy Max Sparber
In many respects, the people of my country—we call it “Futureland” or “Futureworld,” depending on the state—are much like Lego men (minifigs). We have round, cheerful faces, chunky, clunky legs, and square, tapering shoulders. And the women… oh, the women of Futureland are the most beautiful in the world, with their round, cheerful faces, chunky, clunky legs, and square, tapering shoulders. Some might argue that they’re only distinguishable from us men by painted on lipstick and eyelashes… but I don’t see why that has to be a bad thing.

And, like Lego people, our arms are removable and replaceable. We can mix and match! Unfortunately, the process of arm removal is often extremely painful and bloody, and arm replacement involves extensive surgery, an anti-rejection drug regimen, and years of physical therapy. Still… replaceable arms! Yes, life in the future is fine indeed.

Oh? You don’t believe me? Well, put on your chronohats and futurnaut undies and join me up here for a moment, so that we might consider the case of one Karl Merk.

Karl was a German dairy farmer until six years ago, when he elected to have his arms removed. Although… Maybe “elected” isn’t totally accurate. Mr. Merk’s arms were detached just below the shoulders by a combine harvester, and he was screaming “Kill me, kill me!” when he was later discovered by a colleague. So it seems possible that the arm-removal could have been an accident.

Regardless, it wasn’t until just recently that a suitable set of new arms could be found to click back into Karl’s shoulders.

It took a team of 40 surgeons, specialists, and support staff 15 hours to reattach the arms of a donor who had died only hours earlier. The arms were filled with “a cooled preservation solution,” and then detached from the donor’s shoulders at the exact point Mr. Merk’s arms were severed. Merk’s arm stumps were then cut open to expose the bone, muscle, nerve tissue, and blood vessels.

The bones were joined first, followed quickly by arteries and veins, to ensure blood flow. Muscles and tendons were then attached, followed by the nerves, and then the skin was finally sewn together.

Click. Click.

I recommend checking out the video in the page linked to above (under “the case of one Karl Merk”). It has a video of Karl with his new arms. The arms are paler than the rest of Karl, and they look kind of muscley. They’re also kind of wet and shiny looking, which is gross. But they work, and over the next couple years Karl should be able to regain full use of the hands and everything. Because so much of his arms were cut off in the accident, there’s a greater risk that Karl’s body won’t accept the new limbs, but so far there doesn’t signs of rejection.

And that’s life in the future. Tons of painful surgery. And maybe some slightly disproportionally large arms.

Buzz has plenty on organ transplants and the like. Check in out here.


Nothing to do with the cat, actually: She just realized that she forgot her cell phone.
Nothing to do with the cat, actually: She just realized that she forgot her cell phone.Courtesy dieselbug2007
How has your day been so far? Good? I suppose it’s a little early to be asking that.

Depending on how you feel about no-faced cats, your day may be about to take a dive, or really look up.

When I say “no-faced cat,” what I mean is “a real cat with no face.” This one, in particular.

Not only has Chase recuperated beautifully from having her face and leg removed, but she’s started a blog!

Medicine is amazing, cats are amazing, and the Internet is amazing.

Who knew a cat could even type?


The actual towel was much smaller: but there was a person behind it. Well...around it.
The actual towel was much smaller: but there was a person behind it. Well...around it.Courtesy Silver Starre
Well, there’s some good news out there for at least one living human. A Japanese man went into surgery a week or two ago after his doctors told him that a tumor was causing his chronic abdominal pain. After opening him up, the surgeon discovered that the “tumor” was actually a surgical towel, left in the man from an operation he had undergone in 1983!

Talk about a red letter day! No tumors, and a free towel. I can’t remember the last time I got a free towel. I mean, usually people won’t keep towels for 25 years, and this one may have turned a greenish-blue color from spending a couple decades inside an abdominal cavity, but still…not a bad deal.

What an odd thing, though. I suppose I shouldn’t hold it against anyone—I don’t think I could perform an appendectomy, so far be it from me to expect a surgeon to be able to do everything I can do easily, like not leave towels inside people.


I see

Good to know.

Thought you were tough, huh?: Not until you take this, and cut open your own windpipe with it in your kitchen in the middle of the night.
Thought you were tough, huh?: Not until you take this, and cut open your own windpipe with it in your kitchen in the middle of the night.Courtesy Don Solo
Last week a man gave himself a tracheotomy in his kitchen. That means he took a knife, and cut a hole in his own throat.

The man has suffered from throat cancer and breathing problems. He awoke in the middle of the night last week with his throat swollen shut. You know the rest.

Apparently Rambo lives in Omaha.


This man doesn't have hiccups: but he's thinking about it.
This man doesn't have hiccups: but he's thinking about it.Courtesy prashant_zi
Chris Sands, a twenty four year old British musician is now on the fifteenth month of a case of hiccups. Hiccupping as often as every two seconds, the man is said to even hiccup in his sleep. If we assume that the man averages about one hiccup every ten seconds (they have to slow down when he’s asleep, right?), that means he has still hiccupped approximately 39,312,000 times since the inception of his condition.

It’s a stressful thought isn’t it? And the ramifications are no more pleasing—on average, a single hiccup lowers a person’s happiness by about a fifth of a puppy (a puppy being the standard unit of happiness). The longer hiccups last, the closer to this average value hiccups come (successive hiccups becoming more frustrating and yet less surprising), so we can pretty safely assume that Sands’ condition has resulted in the loss of about 7,862,400 puppies. Obviously he must have gained puppies here or there over the last 15 months, but, even assuming that Mr. Sands was a pretty happy person to begin with, the levels of puppy accumulation that would be required to overcome this deficit are practically inconceivable in the present day on planet Earth. For instance, finding buried treasure on four separate occasions would just about bring someone up to 7,862,400 puppies. Not going to happen. Seeing a different animal dressed in funny clothing every five minutes of your waking life for about a decade, likewise, would do the trick. But, likewise, not going to happen. Not on this planet.

Initially, Sands turned to what I like to call “the namby-pamby sciences” for a cure, experimenting with yoga and hypnosis to no effect. Duh. However, it seems that even the “Desert Eagle sciences” of drugs and surgery may not be able to help the spasmodic musician. There was some thought that the hiccups stemmed from a chronic acid reflux condition, caused by a damaged stomach valve, in which case simple keyhole surgery to tighten the valve probably would have done the trick. Early body scans, however, don’t appear to indicate that this is the problem.

Chris Sands may be up Brown Creek.

Some might say that Sands should count his blessings, and consider Charles Osborne of Anthon, Iowa, who had hiccups from 1922 to 1990. But then some might say that this is exactly what the young man has to look forward to. Best of luck, fella.

UPDATE: Apparently seeing animals in clothing doesn't necessarily make you happy. Sometimes it's just the opposite.


Aboard the vomit comet: This is the same type of plane that Sanchot was operated aboard.
Courtesy NASA

I don't know about you but I think I would be pretty much last on the list to volunteer for surgery on a plane. Especially if that that plane is flying up and down, up and down, thousands of feet each minute to simulate zero gravity.

But that's just what Philippe Sanchot signed up for. Doctors removed a benign tumor from his arm as part of an experiment to see how surgery in space might work. They flew aboard the specially designed plane, Zero-G, which climbs very high and then dives quickly to simulate weightlessness.

The main surgeon on the team said:

"Now we know that a human being can be operated on in space without too many difficulties."

These techniques might be used in the future to remotely preform surgery abroad the space station or other futuristic space craft.

Isabelle Dinoire's face transplant was recently deemed a success by the surgeons who performed her operation. Dinoire had the operation last November after being mauled by her dog.