Simulated hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery (HALS) in microgravity

Timothy J. Broderick, Mary Beth Privitera, Scott E. Parazynski, Marsh Cuttino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous simulation and porcine experiments aboard the reduced gravity program KC-135 turbojet have demonstrated that microgravity surgery is feasible. Ideally, surgical care in spaceflight will incorporate recent advances in care while remaining easy enough for a crew medical officer (CMO) lacking surgical proficiency or extensive surgical experience to perform. As a minimally invasive surgical technique, hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery (HALS) benefits the patient via smaller incisions, less pain, and faster recovery than traditional open surgery. HALS also helps less experienced laparoscopic surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery. Methods: An inexpensive inanimate surgical simulator was constructed to evaluate the usefulness of HALS in microgravity. This simulator was utilized during brief periods of microgravity provided by parabolic flight on the KC-135. The simulator was successfully used by both a physician-astronaut and an experienced laparoscopic surgeon. Task completion included simulated surgery with exploration of the intestines and ligation of the appendix. Results: Simulated HALS was successfully performed in microgravity. HALS effectively contained operative equipment and small amounts of introduced fluids within the simulated abdominal cavity. Astronaut and surgeon experience suggest that HALS could facilitate minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in microgravity. Discussion: HALS holds promise as a surgical approach in microgravity, particularly as space travel extends beyond low earth orbit. HALS provides the benefits of MIS, facilitates MIS surgery by less surgically proficient or experienced CMOs, and contains equipment and fluid within the operative field. Simulation provides an easy, cost-effective platform to evaluate medical technology for space flight as well as a method to train CMOs on-orbit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-148
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques - Part A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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