Is it time to start planning for surgery in space?


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Researchers have suggested that it may be time to start planning for surgery in space. 

In a new review published in the British Journal of Surgery, the authors discuss how there has been renewed interest in both manned space exploration and even in potential human colonisation of nearby planets in recent years. They say that while conditions requiring surgery in space are rare, that they present “huge logistical challenges for optimal management". The authors point out that travel distances and mission length required for such journeys would render Earth-based treatment and telemedical solutions unfeasible, and suggest alternative options may need to be considered including the use of teleoperated surgical robots. 

The review also explores current understanding of human physiology, and discusses known physiological alterations in space include fluid redistribution, cardiovascular changes, bone and muscle atrophy, and effects of ionising radiation.  

“Although the concept of surgery in space may seem esoteric, it is important to start planning early if new frontiers in space travel are to be achieved,” the authors write.