Medical practice has become much more advanced due to the numerous developments made during the centuries. The understanding of all surgical techniques and processes has changed, too. Ancient surgical practices, despite their simplicity, laid out the way for the up-to-date surgery displaying the longings of the earliest civilizations to cure illnesses and heal injuries.
Surgery was created to heal traumas and injuries, and to fix all possible imbalances in the human organism. Ambroise Pare, a French surgeon of the 16th century, defined the purpose of surgery in the following way, “Eliminate that which is superfluous, restore that which has been dislocated, separate that which has been united, join that which has been divided and repair the defects of nature” (Kelly, n.d.). This definition expresses the major purpose of surgery which has been practiced for hundreds of years. Of course, with the advances of the surgical technologies, new purposes have been discovered. Nowadays, surgeries can be either required or elective, for superficial or health reasons. Contemporary surgery often helps to diagnose some other conditions which should better be fixed or cured.
Centuries ago, such civilizations as Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Greece practiced early, various versions of surgery.
The oldest known procedure is trepanation. Archeologists have discovered evidence of trepanation’s performance in many areas of the ancient territories. In those times this unpleasant procedure of drilling a hole in the skull was a cure from headaches, seizures, and mental disorders (Kelly, n.d.).
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Ancient surgeons also found anesthesia. Historians state that for anesthetic purposes opiate based drugs and alcohol were used.
The Aztec civilization is ascribed to be the first that discovered how to set a broken bone properly, and the dead bodies dissections by the early Greek surgeons had a great contribution to the understanding of the functions of the human body.
The ‘father of surgery’ as Sushruta, an Indian surgeon who lived in 600 BC, is sometimes referred to, conducted extensive studies contributing to the practice. Sushruta also invented the first way of doing the cosmetic surgery when a piece of skin from forehead was taken to reconstruct the damage on the nose (Kelly, n.d.).
During the Medieval ages, surgical technology still mostly relied on the procedures established by the ancient world, however, some progress marked its way. The devastating and numerous wars of this epoch allowed surgeons to develop such techniques which were efficient in treating battlefield injuries (Kelly, n.d.).
Surgical practices were developed also in the Islamic world, especially in the Ottoman Empire. For example, Abulcasis combined the techniques of Greek and Indian surgery together with Islamic knowledge. His studies influenced the European surgery dramatically during this time. Surgeon Andreus Vesalius initiated a medical revolution when he published his book “On the Fabric of the Human Body” in 1543. In the book he doubted some ancient surgical procedures that helped to disclose some misconceptions about the human organism and surgical technologyin general.
In the 20th century, the revising and questioning of old surgical technologies caused dramatic changes (mainly improvements) in the field of surgery, however, there were still a lot of hurdles to avoid. During hundreds of years, patients died because of the blood loss, various side effects after surgeries, and different infections. During this time, effective techniques to stop blood loss were developed, for example, the use of ligatures. During this century the blood types were also discovered which enabled a successful performance of blood transfusions by doctors.
The understanding of the key role of cleanliness to the health of the patient came to people. Sterilization of the surgical instruments allowed to avoid numerous infections and became a common practice. Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of the first antibiotic drug, penicillin, has saved millions of lives helping to destroy most of the harmful bacteria (Kelly, n.d.).
Modern surgical technology introduces drastic changes which helped to advance this practice beyond the borders of understanding. We know from the ancient works that civilizations considered the possibility of heart transplants for hundreds of years, only in the 1960s this possibility was successfully implemented in life. Microchip and computer technology made it possible to complete main surgeries with just a small incision. These smaller incisions also mean less pain, quicker recoveries, and shorter stays in the hospitals. This technique, which is called laparoscopic surgery, utilizes tiny video cameras giving a surgeon the opportunity to see everything clearly on the screen with just a miniature incision. This procedure is less invasive comparing with the traditional surgical practice, lowering the risk of infection or shock.
Many robots solve the problem of the tremors of the hand as they can be calibrated in such a way, that they will be able to transfer large motions at the console of the controller into ultrafine, tine actions by the tools. Surgeons do not even have to stay in the same room with the patient to operate him or her while using a robot. In addition, robots make the blood loss very limited. Furthermore, robots are much more precise, with ‘arms’ that can rotate 360 degrees. Eventually, the robotic cameras provide the surgeons with a magnified, clear view of those surgical fields that doctors often cannot see themselves as fingers, when they work, often cause obstructions in their line of sight (Lambdin et al., n.d.).
Medical robots can be applied in various procedures, not only when performing difficult surgeries; they can be used to assist patients in their recovery and when there is a need to accomplish routine care tasks for patients. Robots can also train surgeons and teach students. Nowadays, one of the most popular medical robot brands is Da Vinci.
Unfortunately, despite many advantages, the application of robots has its downfalls, too. The first limitation for many medical institutions is the expense: Da Vinci system, for example, costs $ 1 million, and the replacement of parts which can be needed after each procedure may cost additionally $ 1,500. Moreover, surgeons have to undergo a serious, costly training to be able to operate the robots efficiently. To get used to using new technology when the surgeons will not be able to touch the patient also needs a great deal of time (Lambdin et al., n.d.).
With the development of surgical technologies, the prices of the robots would probably decrease with time, but today most institutions cannot afford them. Scientists predict that when these disadvantages are mitigated (probably, even within 10 years), all surgical procedures would become scarless as tiny robots could be inserted into the patient even through the natural orifices of the body (Lambdin et al., n.d.).
Especially useful robots can become in the army when a need for a surgery is burning and there is no doctor available.
The first robotically aided surgery was completed in 1998. Because of the effective implementation, this technology is being constantly developed and upgraded (Kelly, n.d.).
I would like also to mention in this paper the importance of the lasers’ application which allowed to make surgeries more precise, and, again, less invasive. For instance, lasik surgery is an elective and very common surgery that applies lasers to correct problems with vision.
Although highly accurate medical technology is already at hand in health systems mostly in well-developed countries, more advances are continuously being made. Resulting from the addition of nanotechnology in medical field to the existing knowledge of cellular and molecular biology, scientists are predicting the soon development of even more rapid and accurate diagnostic techniques as well as special procedures which will assist the regeneration of the organism.
In the 21st century the application of medical robots has increased rapidly. Surgeons no longer have to rely only on their own skills and experience alone.
The Biomedical Engineering Research Center is focused to resolve technological and scientific problems in this field by measuring forces exerted on the humeral joint depending on the type of a suture used after the prostheses is implanted. During the rehabilitation period, exercises are undertaken which aim to prevent bone’s ankylosis. However, the force which influences stitches is sometimes quite enough to break them. The Center’s design of a robotic test which has such an anatomic model that can behave exactly in the same way as, for example, person’s arm, give the opportunity to enable application of the repetitive and systematic methodology that quantifies all independent measurements of the external factors. Tests like these help surgeons to learn how to make surgical procedures much better. In the case of the Center, the most effective stitching method is aimed to be identified.
Nowadays, people who do the surgeries are not doctors alone but the whole teams of surgical technologists. They usually work under the supervision of registered nurses, surgeons or other surgical personnel. Sometimes they are called “surgical technicians”, “scrubs”, and “operating room technicians” (What Surgical Technologists Do, 2012).
The profession of the surgical technologist is considered to be developed during the World War II: A critical need for someone who can assist in surgical procedures urged to train people so they could have the qualifications in demand.
In July 1969, the Association of Surgical Technologists was organized.
In December 1972, the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association adopted the proposed educational standards for the field and formed the Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology.
The surgical technologists are responsible for assistance before, during, and also after the surgery. Their duties can include the preparation of the operating room for the surgery: Setting non-sterile and sterile instruments, drapes, equipment, and solutions. Surgical technologists have to possess a good knowledge about various surgical procedures, being able to identify among medications which must be used during the surgery correctly, and also know how to prepare for the final clean-up. Moreover, surgical technologists often have to prepare patients before the beginning of the procedure. They can train the new technologists, too (What Surgical Technologists Do, 2012).
In conclusion I would like to say that advancements in medical technology allow people to cure those deceases which were considered incurable just a couple of decades ago. Life expectancy becomes longer, and the predictions of the surgeons and scientists only show that soon we can face a new era of medical health care where people would be able to live happier without pain. We can observe the ongoing debate over the useful and harmful effects of the technology in the whole world, but in the field of medicine, this debate is totally futile as what saves millions of human lives should not be disregarded.