“Performing surgery in space isn’t something we have to deal with yet, but the farther we get from Earth, the more likely we’ll need to expand medical capabilities,” said lead researcher Dr. George Pantalos. Surgical Fluid Management System (SFMS) for the University of Louisville.
“And because of the microgravity environment, surgery and wound care in space will be very challenging.”
On November 15-16, the Microgravity Experiment tested the latest improvements to the SFMS at the University of Louisville.
Launched aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s modified aircraft, the G-FORCE ONE, the system generates brief bursts of microgravity to support technology testing in one of the most challenging space environments.
In the absence of gravity, blood clots and other fluids from surgical sites or wounds could float into the cabin of a spacecraft, contaminate equipment, and potentially introduce disease.
The SFMS has a clear dome that seals tightly against the patient’s skin and provides insertion sites for surgical tools while preventing fluid leakage.
Suction, irrigation, lighting, vision, and cautery are all functions that a Multifunction Surgical Device (MFSD) can perform in one wand-like device.
“For long-duration human spaceflight missions to the Moon, Mars and other destinations, there is a need to monitor the health of the astronauts and, if necessary, intervene appropriately for changes in health or the onset of disease,” said Lab on a Chip principal investigator Richard Mathies, Ph.D. Say.