May 5, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The past decade has seen several significant medical and surgical advancements that have changed the way procedures are carried out in the OR. While each of these advancements has contributed significantly to improving patient healthcare, the following 4 procedures are generally considered the top surgical advancements of the decade.
Earlier surgical procedures involved manually incising a patient’s skin and in most cases, the incisions were large, which usually meant higher risks and longer post-op healing.
Minimally invasive surgery, which was introduced sometime in the 1980s allowed doctors to make smaller incisions, which were less risky and also meant patients could heal faster,
Recent medical advancements are even less invasive. Today surgeons perform procedures by inserting micro-instruments into the body through any orifice such as the nose, instead of cutting through the skin. These procedures allow patients to recover even faster than they would with traditional minimally invasive surgery.
Non-invasive surgery takes it one step further. Here the procedure is carried out without piercing or cutting the skin or inserting any instruments into the body. Non-invasive surgery typically involves using High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound, where an ultrasound beam of very high frequency is concentrated over a small area. This generates heat, which destroys the harmful tissue. Different types of non-invasive surgery are used to treat different medical problems. Some of the medical problems that can be treated using non-invasive surgery include uterine fibroids, brain disorders, breast cancer, bone metastases and prostate cancer.
Benefits of non-invasive surgery include minimum discomfort, trauma or complications, shorter post-op recovery times and no incisions or scars. Most procedures are completed in a single session and do not involve any hospitalisation.
Although robots were introduced into the OR over a decade ago, they have become more common over the past decade. In robotic surgery, the surgeon performs the procedure by controlling the robot through a computer. The surgeon sees the entire procedure through a camera and controls the instruments that are in the robot’s hands. The advantages of this procedure are that it gives doctors better vision and greater precision and sometimes even an extra hand – some robots have more than two hands. Robotic surgery is typically a minimally invasive surgery as robots are capable of using smaller-sized instruments with a higher degree of precision as compared to humans.
The ability to perform surgery on a patient remotely is a ground-breaking advancement in the surgical field. Tele-surgery is a type of robot-assisted surgery in which the surgeon is not physically present in the OR. The surgeon conducts the procedure from anywhere in the world, even another country.
Tele-surgery is particularly useful for performing surgery in rural areas or other remote locations that do not have surgeons who have the experience or skills to carry out highly complicated procedures. It is also used to perform surgery on soldiers or astronauts.
While the possibilities are endless with tele-surgery, this procedure is yet to become mainstream. There are a few obstacles that need to be resolved before it can be more commonly used. One of these is the time delay due to the transmission of data between the two locations.
With technological innovations in the medical field ramping up at an exponential rate in recent years, this is a very exciting time for anyone who is considering specialising in surgery.