Saturday, January 30, 2010

A trip to Surgery Room

Assalamualaikum wrt wbt..

Despite the abundance of work that I need to do, I feel like sharing a story from my day, probably one of the most valuable experience in my life..=). A bit outdated maybe, but I think the memory remained well-preserved fresh, at least for me..

Last Wednesday, Naziha and I was arranged to go see a hip replacement surgery at St. Thomas Hospital, just a couple of minutes from Vandy. This was not just an ordinary hospital visit. We were about to see how "surgical retractors" were being used in operating room, in order to give us a good idea to proceed on our engineering senior design project..

Okay, let's back that up a lil' bit. Before I went on with the surgery story, let me give you guys a good sight of what our senior project is all about..

Basically we're designing a "modular retractor" used specifically for hip replacement surgery. Retractors are simple bended metal made from surgical steel, surgeon used them to separate tissues from bone. They have same basic shape and design concept, the differences are only the handle length and the tip. Our project goal is to improve the current retractors design to become modular - by having mechanisms to lengthen the handle, and to be able to detach and connect the tip. It's a straight-forward concept, but far from the easy neighborhood...We can go for a complicated design, might work, but simple is what we're aiming for. And an engineer would understand how hard it is to make a design to be the simplest..KISS (keep it simple stupid, as my Prof. puts it)..Apart from the hard work, I'm loving the whole project because I got to use my 4-year engineering knowledge, and finally put it into action. These are some examples of retractors:
Alright..back to the story...we arrived at the hospital around 930am, met with Dave (our advisor, an Engineer working for Zimmer). We were expected to be in the OR at 11am, but only able to get in around 12pm due to some technical misunderstandings...Regardless of that, we got ourselves a permanent badge, mind you, PERMANENT badge. Means we can go to any surgery at anytime we want..=P..I guess that happened by mistake. Two businessmen that came in before us for surgery observation only got a stick-on name tag. haha. The old lady at the counter must have been pitying us so much for having to wait for hours...=P

hours of waiting, paid off.. =p

The OR, looks so much like in the movie. I'm a big fan of House MD and ER myself, so I appreciated it very much. We were wearing scrubs, complete with the mask with plastic covering just in case blood splattered, and yeah, shoe covering, if we stepped on blood (eww..gory! =/). The patient was lying down on the surgery table when we got in, anesthesied. In the OR, there were the head surgeon, Dr. Christie (our so-called client), 2 other doctors (Dr. I guess..), 1 lady whose job to pass on the surgical tool to the surgeon, an anesthesiologist, 2-3 nurses to help finding surgical instruments, a guy who observed the video system, Dave, and us two. Poor guy on the surgery table..! =/

As for the surgery, it did not look anything like in the movie, especially this one! A lot of hammering, drilling, sawing..simply put, carpentry work! =P.. I guess that's how hip replacement surgery was supposed to be like. And the people around the patient, well, they were less dramatic than the ones in ER or House MD. They all worked peacefully and silently, each person knew what other person wanted, absolutely with no words uttered.. I was understood that they had worked as a team in every surgery, that made them understand each other to that level.

Throughout the surgery, Dr. Christie communicated with us - me and Naziha..he told us every step he was doing, and commented on the surgical tool when he used them, wherever he found flaws on them. Sometimes he pulled out a retractor used on the patient, showed it to us who had to stand 3 feet away from the surgery area, and told us how we can make the design better (and yeah, it was covered with blood..). And one time, a small part like a screw came off a tool, and fell down INTO the patient's wound. Then he said to us, "See this, girls...this is exactly why I don't want screws or small parts on the retractors.. ". that didn't happen everytime, and it happened that time when we were watching! well maybe he did it on purpose,in any way, that was super AWESOME =)

The surgery went on for about 4 hours...and we were standing most of the time, we sat when our hips were beginning to ache. (Imagine how the surgeons feel...) Well actually, there were some dilly dally during the operation - Dr. Christie had to go to the restroom, missing surgical instruments, misplaced stuff and what not. And a bad-tempered nurse was not helping at all. Make that two! =/. There were times where they argued, and bad-facing each other.. It was not all happy after all. We chit-chatted with the video guy, he said that that did not happened everytime however. But people will always be people.. be it in a normal office, even in a surgery room..

We managed to consult Dr. Christie before and after the surgery, showed us our design ideas so far..and he liked it. He and Dave suggested some ideas..we gave us ours..It was all in all a fruitful discussion.

We went back around 4pm. We missed Zohor because we were in the OR that time (astaghfirullah..=(..). But all in all, we gained a lot in one day! I was proud of myself for not to faint in the OR..hehe. And we got more design ideas, a PERMANENT badge...and yeah, a wonderful experience that only came once in a lifetime! =)..ALHAMDULILLAH...


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