Hermetic surgery trial in zero gravity conditions in the KC-135
'Vomit Comet'. (Air & Space magazine photo)
Russian doctor Leonid Rogovoz removes his own appendix during
an isolated Antarctic mission. (Air & Space magazine
Air & Space magazine has an article in the September 2015 issue
that discusses medical issues for consideration during extended stays in space -
whether it be in orbit around Earth or during a journey to or from the moon or a
planet. Believe it or not, to this day there is no practical method of performing
invasive surgery in zero gravity conditions. The problem is controlling escaping
blood. Even inside a glove box type contraption ('hermetic surgery') the free-floating
blood interferes with an operation enough to jeopardize procedures. Even orthoscopic
methods are difficult because at some point blood tends to escape the body.
As part of planning for every conceivable emergency,
(Russia), and CNSA
(China) have agreed that the only reasonable way to deal with an astronaut who has
assumed space temperature is to do the equivalent of a burial at sea - launch the
body into a separate orbit, where at some point it will create a bright streak across
the sky. The story didn't mention whether there would be a transponder of some sort
onboard to track the body's progress. Would such a corpse be considered 'space junk'
like all the uncountable man-made metal and plastic parts circling the globe today?
Fortunately, such a situation has not occurred, but eventually it will. Gauging
public opinion on the agencies' actions will be interesting when the time comes.
To the right
is a photo of Russian doctor Leonid Rogovoz removing his own appendix during an
isolated Antarctic mission where he could not get back home for proper treatment.
The scenario reminds me of a scene in the movie "Master and Commander: The Far Side
of the World" (one of my favorite movies, BTW) where
the ship's doctor operated on himself, without anesthesia, to remove a musket ball
from under his ribs. This gives a whole new perspective to the words "Physician,
Since RF Cafe
is an electronics-centric website, I would be amiss if not providing some tidbit
on soldering in zero gravity conditions. The animated GIF below shows solder flux
dancing around the end of a wire while in the International Space Station (ISS).
It comes from a NASA website reporting: "There's nothing routine about working in
space, as astronaut Mike Fincke found out recently when he did some soldering onboard
the International Space Station."
Posted August 24, 2015