Snakes, surgery & 5 pence pieces

A robotic snake that surgeons use to perform operations. It’s got the words Summer sci-fi blockbuster written all over it. But this thing’s anything but fiction. The i-Snake’s the real deal and is just waiting to change the face of surgery.

The idea came about when a bunch of surgeons decided to stand up to complex surgery and how intrusive it can be. With no alternative out there they gave it their best shot to come up with one. And eventually all their efforts paid off as it led to the birth of the i-Snake.

They had their doubters, but after a cool £2.1 million grant was awarded to them to help roll it out, those doubters were eating their words. The i-Snake had slithered off the drawing board and went into reality.

So, down to how it works.

In short the i-Snake is pretty much a long tube, packed with complex motors, sensors and imaging tools. And by measuring in at the diameter of a 5 pence piece, it can become the surgeon’s eyes in places that are usually tough to reach. There’s more about this herehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/dec/29/medicalresearch

The end result? As well as cheaper operations, further down the line it’ll be performing coronary bypass operations – meaning open-heart surgery can be well and truly kicked to the curb. Seems like the i-Snake isn’t so sinister after all.

Interested? Well working in this field you could be involved as:

  • Health psychologist researching the most effective teaching and learning techniques
  • Clinical engineer or bio-engineer designing equipment for monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation or research
  • Medical physicist developing instruments and techniques to show what is happening in the body e.g. X-ray, nuclear medicine with radioactive drugs and gamma cameras, and ultrasound scanning
  • Critical care technologist responsible for maintaining and servicing complex, specialised medical equipment such as ventilators or brain monitors
  • Surgeon using a robot to perform simple operations and procedures
  • Sales representative offering hospitals new equipment
  • Health service manager deciding which equipment the hospital should purchase on the budget available