Technology May Help People With No Medical Background Operate On Save A Life. - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Health Watch - 10/29/04

Technology May Help People With No Medical Background Operate On Save A Life.

In the television series Star Trek, doctors of the future may treat a patient even in the far reaches of outer space. But for now, NASA astronauts are being trained to act as doctors in extreme environments.

"With this technology people who are not doctors, people who are not surgeons can use emergency surgery to save somebody's life."

The technology is called telementoring. Dr. Anvari is a general surgeon guiding astronauts on NEEMO 7 -- the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. Using telecommunication lines from a hospital in Toronto, Ontario Dr. Anvari gives surgical instructions to NASA astronauts located in Aquarius -- an underwater habitat similar in size to the Space Shuttle -- off the coast of Florida.

"You're operating with somebody that has absolutely no knowledge of human anatomy surgical instruments or what they're supposed to do. So you really go back to the basics, and try to be as simple as possible, try and coach them through it potentially dangerous life threatening operation."

"Not even a spill of blood....."

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman has flown in space twice. She has no formal medical training but just completed her first surgery.

"I think that it was a pretty big step to go from Band-Aids to gall bladders."

From gallbladders to kidney stones to repairing an injured artery --telementoring can be a surgical solution for soldiers in the field to remote areas lacking doctors.

"We're thinking now of sending people further and farther out in the universe... we definitely know that we need to be prepared."

As doctors prepare to use their skills beyond the confines of operating rooms like these, they may find that in extreme situations almost anyone can act as a surgeon.

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