As seen in The Orange County Register
Imagine a future in which every surgery requires a very
small to non-existent incision. A future in which nano-robots are injected into
your body to fight heart disease. Where your pacemaker will text your doctor if
it senses there is something wrong.
Some of this technology is already here; the rest is just
around the corner. Medical technology is moving so quickly that the next three
years will see as many advances as the last 20.
If you think that sounds like hyperbole, just try to imagine
your life without your smartphone. (Stop trembling: It’s just an exercise.)
You’d probably be incapacitated without your iPhone, but it’s likely you didn’t
even own one until three or four years ago. You functioned just fine then; now
you can’t live without it. That’s how quickly technology can insert itself into
our world and completely transform our lives.
Nowhere is that more true than in medicine.
Leading-edge technology like the type we are using at Hoag
promises a future of more personalized and more rapid healthcare than ever
Hoag’s new hybrid operating room allows surgeons to receive
3D and 4D real-time diagnostic imaging of the body and perform minimally
invasive cardiovascular surgeries at the same time through small key hole
incisions. The first of its in kind in Orange County, the Bob & Marjie Bennett Hybrid Cardiovascular Operating Room has already made heart surgeries safer
and recovery times faster, revolutionizing the current approach to cardiac
Traditionally, for example, heart valve replacement surgery
involved cutting through the chest bone with a saw, stopping the heart and a
long recovery time. Now it involves a tiny incision in the groin and the precise
placement of a new heart valve under real time imaging, without the need to
stop the heart. Instead of three months of recovery, patients can go home in a
few days and do their grocery shopping within a week.
The hybrid operating room is unique and requires specialized
training, but we’ll look back 10 years from now and marvel that all ORs weren’t
equipped like this.
Another interesting advancement is the use of wireless
technology for monitoring patients’ health remotely. Recently, technology has
allowed doctors to check on their patients’ pace makers and make any necessary
adjustments remotely. A patient could be in Cancun and his doctor could be in
Finland, but they could use technology to virtually come together and improve
that patient’s health.
It’s also safe to say, that we’re not far off from surgery
that will be performed with computer assisted voice activation – or even with
simple eye movements – rather than with our hands. It could be that before a doctor
even walks into an operating room, technology will allow him to perform a trial
run of the entire surgery on his computer, allowing him to see what types of
complications could arise, allowing him to avoid any problems during the real
I predict that the very nature of what a doctor does will
change. Instead of cutting people open and prescribing drugs we hope will work,
we will become health managers, remotely monitoring your health, answering your
questions on health-centric social media sites and helping you to avoid medical
pitfalls rather than trying to fix problems after they arise.
With all this innovation, it’s possible that one day the
image of a doctor like myself will seem as outdated as a car phone.
I’m looking forward to it.
Dr. Jacques Kpodonu is
the program director of Hoag’s Cardiovascular Surgical Hybrid and Endovascular