Simulating Operations

Doctors need to practice for years to get good at performing often very tricky procedures, but rather than make mistakes on real patients, modern technology means it’s now possible to rehearse complicated operations using simulators first. And it can be very realistic, and very stressful, as I found out when Gareth Wills from Vascular Perspectives had me threading a tube into a pretend coronary artery, one of the blood vessels that can become blocked and cause a heart attack…

  • The wire is 35 thousandths of an inch in diameter and is inserted into the radial artery int the wrist
  • It’s then threaded up through the arm and across the top of the chest until descends down the aorta and joins up with the heart
  • A tube is then threaded along the wire to allow fluorescent dye to be injected onto the blood vessels of the heart
  • This can be seen under X-ray and any problems or blockages can be identified
  • The procedure is generally performed on patients complaining of chest pain at rest or after exertion
  • Using the simulator allows doctors to practice in a low-risk environment

You can listen to the full interview for the Naked Scientists here.

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