Natural Orifice Surgery

By Deane Barker on August 6, 2007

‘Natural orifice’ surgery has tongues wagging: Medical science is doing some scary cool things with remote manipulation. This is an article about how doctors are removing gallbadders by running tools down through patients’ mouths, or — in the case of women — up through their, uh, lady parts.

The thought of having the gallbladder extracted through the mouth or, in women, the vagina, is enough to send some patients fleeing. But by eliminating an external incision, proponents say, the approach promises to reduce pain and speed recovery.

[…] [The doctor] snaked a narrow tube called a flexible endoscope down Masterson’s esophagus and into her stomach. Working with tiny tools inserted through the tube, he cut a hole in her stomach, about a quarter-inch wide, to reach her gallbladder.

Can you image the tolerances those tools are built to? How do you keep something that precise working that well at that distance and with that many twists and turns between both ends?

More importantly, didn’t we see something like this with Arnie in “Total Recall” or Keanu in “The Matrix”? Arnie pulled something lodged in his brain out through his nose, so I suppose that’s the next frontier.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. How do you keep something that precise working that well at that distance and with that many twists and turns between both ends?

    compared to what nasa does, this seems almost trivial…

  2. “How do you keep something that precise working that well at that distance and with that many twists and turns between both ends?”

    I don’t know, but I’m guessing that it involves very small hydraulic systems. It’s hard to imagine that they introduce electricity into the patient and the mechanics appear to be impossible. Fluid transmits pressure in any direction and can be controlled external to the patient.

    Or not.

    Another miracle in this area is the Holmium laser (Element Ho, #67) that is used to pulverize kidney and bladder stones. Because its output is readily absorbed by water, the Holmium laser must be in direct contact with the stone to work, making it virtually impossible to accidentally burn the patient. It also breaks the stone into very small pieces. A wonderful invention!

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