Technology In Surgery

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Navigating new technology in surgery – a user’s guide in the 21st century
It is self-evident that technology has played a dominant role in shaping our choices and decisions in surgical treatment in the past two decades; however we were not prepared for the geometric rate of its advances. Human society has developed at a fantastic pace propelled by the wonders of scientific and technological developments. Where human need is felt, we collaborate in thought and experiment to bring solutions to the societal table. In the age of information, technology has acquired a life of its own and the human brain extended by the multiplier effect of material sciences, electronics and computing has provided the impetus for independent innovation exemplified
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Surgeon scientists continue to enter the arena and develop the technology that will give us better answers to the triple test for technology. The future is in our hands. If we shape it well, many more can reap the fruit of science. When a procedure proves itself, we can redouble our efforts to bring the benefits to our patients. Aptitude regulates the speed of learning and skill acquisition; however with time and tutored practice, we can master anything. Conferences, workshops and training programmes all help in the process of skill transfer. Auditing our progress and results keeps us on the track of patient safety. To cap it all, spending time observing an experienced surgeon in his operating room has been the traditional method of direct learning for centuries and so it continues as the most efficient transfer of technology and technique; this is enhanced using virtual and web based methods. On the other hand, advanced laparoscopy is a skill that may not come easily to all despite effort and we look to robotics and other innovative instruments to make the skill accessible to more surgeons. It is hoped that Moore’s law of technology and economies of scale (4) will drive the costs down to democratize the adoption of innovative instruments and robotic technology. In drug development however, we are seeing the reverse effect with costs of drug development doubling every nine years and the fruit of new pharmaceutical products out of reach of the majority of the world’s population; this effect was ironically dubbed Eroom’s law(5). Likewise, though spatial cramming can be improved on electronic circuitry, the actual cost of product development for hardware rises steadily and we watch sadly as the price tags of each new surgical tool rise and our hopes of unfettered use sag inversely. Truly free markets will ensure the
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