Monday, June 18, 2007

Ever want to be a surgeon?

I had a chance experience to certainly remember this weekend, as I had the opportunity to do a little hands-on playing around with a robotic micro-surgery system called the da Vinci S Surgical System. This thing is state-of-the-art robotic technology that enables physicians to perform more precise, minimally invasive procedures (basically doing surgery through a hole the size of a penny). A local hospital (Southwest General) that happens to have the only units in Northeast Ohio had their training-unit on display at the nearby Mall this weekend.

I rarely go to the Mall, since I generally don't enjoy such places, but this weekend I decided to give modern-day sandals a try after wearing tennis-shoes for basically... forever. Given the 95-degrees today, I'm glad I got a pair too. But, back to the robot...

So, there it was as I entered the center of the Mall. Being a fan of video-games since Space Invaders (perhaps even Pong), this looked like quite a bit of fun. A couple hospital reps were calibrating it and talking to people about the benefits it offered, and I figured what the heck and asked "can I give it a try", and they said sure. I was actually rather surprised they would let the public play with such a thing, and I jumped at the chance.

You basically sit and look into a viewer which shows a stereo view of the "surgery" being performed by the robot (in the middle of the picture), which could be located quite a bit away from where you are sitting. As you look into the viewer, and have your hands (particularly your index-fingers and thumbs) manipulating the "controller arms", your hands movements are scaled and translated into precise movements of the "robot's" micro-instruments that is performing the "operation".

My "surgery" experience was limited to using micro-forceps to pick up tiny little rubber-bands and place them over some "targets". Getting the depth-perception right was a bit interesting, but after about a minute, I was thinking I was on the XBox and rubber bands were placed on their targets with accuracy. I even managed to pass the tiny bands between "hands" (forceps that is), which took quite a bit more effort. And, only when I was done and went over to the robot and examined my "patient" (the targets/bands) did I realize how tiny the items were. I can definitely see how this device would allow for more accurate and less invasive surgery.

I'm hoping not to ever need surgery, but if ever the time comes and this type of thing can be used to improve the outcome, I'm all for it. Though, I am quite sure I would leave any surgery to an expert Doctor regardless of how easy the device seemed to be to use. My "patient" didn't move, didn't bleed, didn't do much of anything.

OK, so this has nothing to do with Celiac Disease or Gluten-Free blogging today, but I thought it was cool nonetheless! I've got some recipes and other things coming, and I'll get back on topic not too far in the distant future. For now, I just want to cool down as this (pre) Summer heat is just a bit much!

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