A device initially made to control blood during brain and spinal surgeries may provide a solution for conducting operations in space, a major problem as humans mull long expeditions to Mars and beyond.
Because space is zero gravity, a simple operation such as an appendectomy — or even a tooth extraction — could contaminate the ship with blood, tissue, and bodily fluids, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A team of Pittsburgh-based researchers are working on an astro-surgical tool — the Aqueous Immersion Surgical System — which uses water pressure in a watertight containment device to keep blood and fluids from floating away. The device can also recover an astronaut’s blood during surgery so it can be re-used.
The device, a clear bottomless dome, is attached to the skin, creating a watertight seal like wearing swim goggles.
It adds pressure from a sterile saline solution to control bleeding, and preserves the surgeon’s view, and has watertight ports so doctors can insert instruments and do surgery under the dome, allowing laparoscopic, arthroscopic or even open surgery and wound stitching.
The project currently has no outside funding, but NASA is offering assistance by providing research time on the special zero-gravity aircraft.
Scientists will take four flights on the plane to test the technology and — on the final two flights — there are plans to perform surgical procedures on a pig's heart to test the system.
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