Sunday, September 5, 2004

Robots in space?


Applications weighed

By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer

While Greater Cincinnati doctors debate the immediate, practical benefits of robotic surgery, Dr. Tim Broderick is deeply immersed in the long-term future of the technology.

Broderick is working with the U.S. Army and with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on ways to use robotic surgery as part of telemedicine systems to be used in battlefields or on space missions. These efforts likely will influence how robots might be used in civilian medicine.

"Better care is possible with robotic surgery," Broderick said. "But to be useful, the costs have to come down and the technology has to prove that it improves quality."

Some of the most dramatic advances in robotic surgery have occurred mostly outside of the United States, Broderick said, in part because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is more restrictive than regulators in other nations:

• In September 2001, just days before the infamous terrorist attacks, a doctor sitting in New York guided a robot to remove the gall bladder of a woman in France.

• In Canada, Dr. Mehran Anvari has performed 22 robotic surgeries at distances beyond 400 kilometers.

• In October, Broderick will be part of a long-distance surgery experiment to be performed during a mission called NEEMO 7.

The project will have a doctor in Canada guiding robotic surgery to be conducted aboard the Aquarius undersea research station submerged off the Florida Keys. The 10-day mission is part of a partnership between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which owns the Aquarius habitat.

Aquarius is about the size of one of the modules of the International Space Station. So NASA is using the station to train astronauts.

In April, Broderick will perform another long-distance robot surgery demonstration for the U.S. Army as part of the American Telemedicine Association's annual meeting in Denver.

E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com




ENQUIRER COLUMNS
Bronson: School taxes ignite fracas in Fairfield
Crowley: Auditor one to watch in '07 governor race
Good Things Happening: Psych grad tries hand at business

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Accuser says Allen advised 'lie and deny'
While admired by some at Enquirer, Collins no stranger to office gossip
GOP leaders to meet with Allen, discuss future
Warren Co. judge accused
Report counts labor losses
Fernald contractor not ready
Tougher penalties discussed
Sluggish Frances prolongs tense vigil
How to prepare for a pleasant Riverfest visit

ELECTION 2004
Ohio hotly contested
Local focus group disparaged by media figures
Celebrities urge people to vote
Registered to vote? If not, here's what you do
2 GOP justices pass $1M in election funds
KY Candidate turns table

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Shirts show where wearer draws line
Louisville jail on lockdown expecting influx
State drops fight against Sunday 'package' sales
Northern Kentucky review
News briefs

EDUCATION
Teachers fear health proposal
Fairfield may revise cell-phone policy
Student eyes politics
Campbell students to attend inaugural
Prepaid tuition plan resumes enrollment

NEIGHBORS
In the arms of a robot
Robots in space?

LIVES REMEMBERED
Howard Walter Rhein, 90, fought at Normandy in WWII
Lawrence Geis, 85, had worked at CG&E
E. Audell Greiner, 94, was pioneer as female pharmacist

MORE FROM THE REGION
AK Steel cancels weekend festivities
Ohio fights to keep records open to public, but secure
Problems at girls prison
Woman killed in motorcycle accident
Public safety briefs