In most cases, you’d probably want the doctor who’s about to perform your brain surgery to set her smartphone aside before poking into your cranium. And, in most cases, you’d be right.
But what if the doctor’s smartphone was a crucial part of the surgical tool kit?
According to a new paper published today (March 13) in the Journal of Neurosurgery, brain surgeons in Brazil have begun attaching old iPhones to their surgical equipment to replace the bulky, expensive video cameras and monitors they typically use — and the doctors like it.
In fact, swapping in a smartphone made certain “minimally invasive” surgeries cheaper, more efficient, and easier to teach to rookie surgeons, the authors wrote. This phone-friendly method could even become a valuable workaround in countries whose infrastructure cannot support expensive medical equipment.
“Our initial goal was to reduce the cost of the neuroendoscopic video set,” study co-author Mauricio Mandel, a doctor at the University of São Paulo Medical School, .”In the end, we came across a new, more intuitive and fluid method of performing these procedures.”
Mandel and his colleagues tested their smartphone camera on a series of neuroendoscopy surgeries — essentially, procedures that involve cutting a small hole in the patient’s nose, mouth or head and using an endoscope (a long, flexible tube) to feed a camera and other surgical tools through the incision.
Typically, these procedures require a long, thin video camera to slip through the endoscope and capture the view inside the patient’s head. This video feed gets transmitted to a monitor standing by the side of the operating table, which the surgeons look up at (rather than looking down at their patient).
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