Tag Archives: surgery

Lungs out of body experience

lungA new technique for storing lungs outside the human body has been developed by the Toronto General Hospital:

In an operating room at the hospital, the technology can keep a pair of human lungs slowly breathing inside a glass dome attached to a ventilator, pump, and filters.

The lungs are maintained at normal body temperature of 37 °C and perfused with a bloodless solution that contains nutrients, proteins, and oxygen.

The organs are kept alive in the machine, developed with Vitrolife, for up to 12 hours while surgeons assess function and repair them.

It is hoped that this process will mean lungs intended for transplant are more likely to be usable. According to the Technology Review article as few as one in ten lungs for transplant are usable with existing cooling-based preservation techniques.

[via Next Big Future, article from Technology Review][image from Technology Review]

Brain surgery, media, and serendipity

brainA North Carolina neurosurgeon had just about given up on the case of Brandon, a 19-year-old tumor patient, till a story on CNN.com led him to a new surgical tool that let him operate successfully.

Dr. Thomas Ellis, a senior neurosurgeon at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, had given the mother the bad news. But:

“As I do every night, I read CNN online and immediately saw on the front page that there was an article in the health section entitled, From military device to life-saving surgical tool. …”

Ellis got in touch with the manufacturer in Massachusetts, and 72 hours later the device was in his hands.

It was originally devised for the U.S. military, and rolled out for surgeries three months before Ellis read about it.

The tool allows surgeons to easily manipulate a CO2 laser and bend it to reach almost any tissue in the body, particularly in cases where scalpels may pose a danger.

Next day (Christmas Eve, no less):

“After only 30 minutes, it was clear this laser device, as simple to use as a scalpel, was successfully debulking the tumor.”

Ellis operated on Brandon for four hours and managed to remove the remaining 80 percent of the tumor by vaporizing it from the inside with the laser and then excising it.

“The boy was then extubated [removing the tube to his airway] after about 30 minutes and that same evening he was eating normally,” Wolf said.

Brandon has recovered his basic functions and is behaving normally.

Ellis says:

“I think it’s an amazing story because it’s yet another demonstration of how interconnected we’ve become in this world.

“You have a CNN reporter in London, who writes a story about a neurosurgeon in Chicago, who’s using a device that was invented in Massachusetts. That story is read by a different neurosurgeon in North Carolina, and all within 72 hours, we have the device in North Carolina.”

[PET scan image from Wikimedia Commons]

We can rebuild you! Injectable artificial bone paste developed

cross-section of a human hip boneI’m lucky enough to have never needed one (touch wood), but I’m told that bone grafts are extremely painful procedures that invite the risk of further damage to surrounding areas. So I can see the logic behind RegenTec’s injectable artificial bone compound, which will be pretty handy stuff if it works as it’s supposed to:

The technology’s superiority over existing alternatives is the novel hardening process and strength of the bond, said Quirk. Older products heat up as they harden, killing surrounding cells, whereas ‘injectable bone’ hardens at body temperature – without generating heat – making a very porous, biodegradable structure.

Putting on our science-fictional speculative hats for a moment, what sort of uses might the street find for this stuff? I’ll start with back-alley cosmetic surgeons offering quick-to-heal height increases. [image by patrix]

A Chemical Brain To Control Nanobots

A brain to control all those tiny machines rebuilding your bodyNanotechnology is perhaps the most rapidly advancing new technology out there right now. All kinds of nanomachines based on biochemical mechanisms, tiny structures of metal or other techniques are being created and studied in universities and laboratories around the world.

Scientists have now created a device two billionths of a metre in size that could work as a chemical ‘brain’ for a group of nanomachines. Potentially this could lead to their use in medical techniques such as nano-surgery on tumours.

“If [in the future] you want to remotely operate on a tumour you might want to send some molecular machines there,” explained Dr Anirban Bandyopadhyay of the International Center for Young Scientists, Tsukuba, Japan. “But you cannot just put them into the blood and [expect them] to go to the right place.”

Dr Bandyopadhyay believes his device may offer a solution. One day they may be able to guide the nanobots through the body and control their functions, he said.

“That kind of device simply did not exist; this is the first time we have created a nano-brain,” he told BBC News.

[story and image via BBC Science/Nature. Thanks to Kian Momtahan for the link!]