Sunday, July 15, 2007

"It's all about plumbing"

From this entry, I will write down some operations that I saw in the OR. Let me start from some less complicated ones, e.g. colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a minimally invasive endoscopic examination of the large intestine. The endoscope goes through patient’s anus, and can go as far as to the cecum. Usually, the patient is lying on the surgical table and general anesthesia is given to the patient. At the first glance of the endoscope, there is nothing fancy. A black flexible tube and that’s it. But of course, it can’t be that simple. At the distal end of the black tube, a CCD camera is equipped to provide high definition motion pictures. The endoscope is also able to inflate the colon by blowing gas, so that the endoscope can move more freely and has a better view. In addition, it also has an injector and a sucker to clean up some small areas when that’s necessary.

The doctor held the tube on his left hand and gently pushed it, while his right hand was holding the control panel to adjust the angle of the distal end of the tube. He kept watching the monitor and searching any suspicious protrusions. “How can you tell up and down from the monitor?” The first question came suddenly. “Look at the water”. A resident successfully solved this quiz.

The above paragraph is a typical scenario I saw in a colonoscopy case. To me, colonoscopy is like an exploration of an unknown cave. You see many wrinkles on the wall. The CCD camera is your torch and eyes. The difference is that, instead of finding treasures, doctors are aiming at polyps. “It’s all about plumbing”. My doctor concluded after an operation. I couldn’t agree more.

A typical picture captured in a colonoscopy. From wikipedia, (

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