Sunday 19 March 2023

The Complicated Process Of Performing Surgery In Space

There are developing technologies and procedures to deal with these issues, like working more with keyhole surgeries rather than open surgeries (to be less invasive and have less chance of organs or fluids escaping the body), using magnetic surgical tools which will stick to the operating table and not float away, and having the surgeon held in place so they can exert force without floating away.

Researchers are working on methods to improve surgery in microgravity by performing tests on parabolic flights, which achieve weightlessness for a short time. A group of surgeons did manage to perform a simulated laparoscopy on a fake torso in these conditions. 

But there's a big difference between working on a fake torso and actually having to cut into your co-worker in an emergency. Purvis notes that the study authors warn that it would be psychologically difficult for astronauts to perform this kind of operation on one of their colleagues.

Future plans for longer missions such as a mission to Mars include using 3D printing to create surgical tools as required or using robots to perform surgeries, but we're a long way from having anything like that become operational.

For now, if there's a medical emergency in space we remain dependent on doctors giving telemedicine advice and bringing astronauts back to Earth for surgery if required. But we'll need to work on a way to deal with health emergencies if we want to visit other worlds in the future.


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