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Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft

The more time astronauts spend in space, the more likely it will be that an astronaut will need to undergo surgery in zero gee. Which could get messy.

Hence, the traumapod.


(Space traumapod)

The surgery itself will be another challenge. To combat microgravity aboard the ship, patients will have to be physically restrained, the authors wrote. Once the patient is secured, wrangling the bodily fluids that are leaking from that patient's open wounds will be another, messier challenge.

"Because of the surface tension of blood, it tends to pool and form domes that can fragment on disruption by instruments," the authors wrote. "These fragments may float off the surface and disperse throughout the cabin, potentially creating a biohazard."

Worse still: Without gravity holding the patients' bowels in place, they may float up and rest against the patients' abdominal walls while the patients are restrained, the authors wrote. This increases the risk that the patients' bowels would be accidentally "eviscerated" during surgery leaking gastrointestinal bacteria into the patient's body and the ship at large.

One proposal for avoiding contamination by blood and whatever else to cover the patient in a "hermetically sealed enclosure" separate from the rest of the ship. This could take the form of a specialty "traumapod," the researchers wrote, which would be a small, sealed medical module built into future spacecraft.

I wrote about another alternative to open capsule surgery - see Surgery in Space. You might also like Space Rescue Technology in Fact and Fiction. I like the trauma pod idea - see Trauma Pod Battlefield Medical Treatment System.

Larry Niven thought carefully about this problem in his 1970 blockbuster novel Ringworld:

But they got him into the autodoc anyway. It was a puppeteer-shaped coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself, and bulky Puppeteer surgeons and mechanics must have intended that it should handle any conceivable circumstance. But had they thought of decapitation? They had. There were two heads in there, and two more with necks attached, and enough organs and body parts to make several complete puppeteers. Grown from Nessus himself, probably; the faces on the heads looked familiar.
(Read more about Larry Niven's autodoc)

Via Space.com.

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