May 02, 2008
BehindTheMedspeak: 'McSleepy' — World's first robotic anesthesiologist
Very exciting, to learn a machine can do what I do all day — sit on a stool and stare at multiple screens and listen to all manner of beeps and alarms, every now and then making a few marks on a piece of paper.
What took so long?
Here's today's Canadian Press article about the new new thing — totally automated anesthesia.
- Canadians create anesthesia system dubbed McSleepy
First there was McDreamy. Then came McSteamy. Now there's McSleepy.
No, the latest addition isn't yet another hunky doc from the TV series Grey's Anatomy, but an automated anesthesiologist developed by Canadian researchers that sends patients to the surgical equivalent of the Land of Nod.
Scientists at McGill University in Montreal believe they are the first in the world to perform surgery using a totally automated system for administering the drugs needed for general anesthetic.
Dubbed McSleepy, the computerized system administers three standard drugs used for putting patients under for surgery and monitors their separate effects automatically, without the need for manual intervention.
The researchers say the system can calculate the appropriate drug doses for any given moment of anesthesia faster and more precisely than a human. It has been designed to analyze biological information and constantly adapt to changes, even recognizing monitoring malfunction.
But that doesn't mean an anesthesiologist would turn the patient over completely to machines, said principal developer Dr. Thomas Hemmerling, who likens McSleepy to the automatic transmission in a vehicle.
"Automatic systems in life only help us to perform our task better, they will not replace us," Hemmerling said Thursday.
"The majority of our work is actually how we … manage everything that goes on with surgery. Bleeding, temperature control, all these kind of things should be much more important to us than just applying the drugs to make somebody sleepy, because that's how we help the surgeons to do their job.
"So if you have an automatic system covering the mere administration of these drugs, we can really focus on what else we're doing."
McSleepy can best be described as a software system that directs infusion pumps in a patient's vein to release specifically timed and measured doses of drugs that induce sleepiness, control pain and relax muscles during an operation.
The computerized system also provides continuous feedback on how the patient is responding to the drugs as surgery progresses, from brainwave patterns and muscle contractions to heart rate and blood pressure readings.
Dr. Shane Sheppard, president of the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society, said McSleepy or a similar device would be a boon for his profession, especially during long operations.
For instance, during a recent seven-hour surgery for colorectal cancer, Sheppard had to administer muscle relaxant to the patient every 45 minutes.
"So this type of technology would eliminate the need to constantly be looking at the clock, looking at the patient, looking at the (muscle) twitch monitor to see if they need more drug right now," he said. "It would just go ahead and give it."
So, could McSleepy or a similar system one day replace human anesthesiologists? "The short answer is no," said Sheppard of Saskatoon, who's been practising for 20 years.
"Somebody has to start the intravenous, make sure it's in a vein and not interstitial (in the tissue). Somebody has to put the breathing tube in once they're asleep. Somebody has to watch for mechanical failure."
"And those of us who work in an operating room know that these machines are great, but they're only as good as the next time they break down or have interference from some other piece of equipment."
Hemmerling said that should a problem develop — either with the system or because an unexpected event occurs with the patient during surgery — the system can be manually overridden.
But beyond stepping in should something with the system go wrong, the anesthesia specialist also brings critical skills that computers just can't deliver, said Sheppard. "The value of the anesthesiologist is largely based around their judgment and their ability to discern what is the best plan for the patient, how to change plans if things change in real time."
The McGill system is not the first to use automation for at least some drug administration for anesthesia — researchers have been looking at this for 15 to 20 years — but the Montreal team's development of software to monitor pain using a feedback scoring system allowed them to automate the entire process.
"That was sort of the breakthrough to get McSleepy running," said Hemmerling.
So far, the system has been tested during operations on seven patients, the first a 3 1/2-hour surgery for a patient who had a tumour removed from his kidney.
"We have preliminary results which indicate it is actually better in terms of stability of anesthesia than us at this point," he said, referring to anesthesiologists. "But that is not the focus at this point."
"The focus is I want this software program, McSleepy, I want it to be as good as me on my best day — but not better."
Hemmerling said the system can communicate with personal digital assistants (PDAs), so an anesthesiologist can monitor a patient outside the OR, while checking on post-surgical patients in recovery, for instance.
"It would just again increase the safety," he said. "It wouldn't mean I'd be in Hawaii while I'm doing anesthesia at McGill."
Hemmerling predicts McSleepy could be on the market within five years, possibly developed at McGill in conjunction with biomedical engineers at the Université de Montreal, a partner in the research, or by a commercial biomedical company.
But before seeking approval from Health Canada and the FDA, the researchers plan to test the system on 1,000 to 2,000 surgical patients.
"It will probably take two years to perfect the system," he said.
"McSleepy is born but it needs a lot of work."
Tell you what, it's no surprise this development comes out of Canada.
FunFact: "In Canada, it is possible to train as a GP anesthesiologist in one year. In the United States, it takes at least four years of specialist training, and in the United Kingdom a few years longer."
So many Canadian anesthesiologists, fed up with the country's national health system, have left for the U.S. over the years that the country's now suffering from a huge shortage of fully-trained specialists.
Nothing like a little "Anesthesia Helper" to stretch what remains.
[via Dr. Yoni Freedhoff]
Stadium Seat TV/DVD Player
This has got to be the world's most technical stadium seat.
Too bad it's the person sitting behind you who gets to watch the game both live and on your (very expensive) TV.
Wait a minute, joe — that's no stadium seat.
"The Alpha melds retro styling with a 19" LCD and built-in DVD player and iPod-like remote."
Orange, Silver or Black.
€1,950 (£1,525; $3,000).
Philippe Petit will walk the wire on Saturday and Sunday at Washington Square Park in New York City
3 p.m. sharp each day.
You could look it up (third paragraph from the end).
Above, a photo taken during his now-legendary August 7, 1974 high-wire walk between the World Trade Center towers.
Here's a link to a recent video interview with Petit.
Kazan Tissue Dispenser
From the Kazan website:
- Kazan Tissue Dispenser
When placed on top of a stack of tissues, this mountain-like dispenser creates the impression of plumes of smoke billowing out from its hollow core.
Kazan is Japanese for volcano.
2.75"Ø x 1.5"H.
Shower with your suit on — No, not your Speedo
- Washable Shower-Wearable Suit
Now, given that us bloggers don't have to move much from our... seats, we usually don't need to dress up. Especially not in formal suits. But I do understand that the rest of you have a real job — as my friends never tire of pointing out — and you do need things like this.
I present to you Australian innovation at its best: The washable wool suit. It's bound to save you more than just pocket change at the dry cleaners and besides, it's Bondishly cool.
Made mainly from fast-drying Australian merino wool by the Japanese firm Konaka, it's aimed at the businessman who is required to remain fully suited in the sweltering heat and humidity of an Asian summer.
The idea is that at the end of a grueling day the suit can be hosed down in the shower, then hung up to dry — regaining its shape, creases and freshness overnight and saving on costly and inconvenient dry cleaning.
As always, it's only available in Japan. An amino acid that makes our hair and nails water-repellent has been used to make the suit amphibious.
Have a look at the video where the guy wears his suit into the shower and still manages to get to the office in perfect condition the next day. It's ideal for me, I hate all the work that goes into steam pressing and I always forget to either drop off or pick up my clothes from the dry cleaners before important events.
The suit dries in two hours.
Technical information: "With a hollow fabric structure, the suit allows air to pass through easily and is blended from fabrics rich in wool: one made of pure wool and the other containing wool and polyester at a ratio of 83% to 17%.
"Water repellent is added to the suits and machine-washable interlinings, while eco-super 3D processing is used to maintain shape. The final finish uses the natural amino acid L-cysteine — a type of amino acid contained in hair, nails and skin — to maintain the Shower Clean Suit’s clean shape."
From another site:
- Washable Merino Wool Suit
No time to take your suit to a dry cleaner? Just turn on the shower to wash it at home.
Washable suits are already available but Japanese clothing company Konaka says its “Shower Clean” line of business suits, which can be washed in a warm shower and require no ironing, is one-of-a-kind.
The firm’s Web site shows how to clean them: Reverse the jacket and pants, put them on clothes hangers and douse with warm water for a few minutes to clean the inside. Repeat the process to clean the outside, then drip-dry.
Konaka is targeting job-hunting college students as well as young businessmen living alone, company official Shigeyuki Tsuchiya said.
“They often don’t have time to take their suit to a dry cleaner and it’s difficult for them to iron a wool suit,” he said. “Our suit can return to the original shape easily after a shower.”
The suits, available for both men and women, will be priced between $260 and $492, according to the company, which has some 320 stores in Japan.
Well, there it is.
From the website:
Increased padded comfort when using laptop on couch, bed or floor.
Convenient storage pocket for power adapter and mouse.
Accommodates small or large laptops.
Funniest thing I've read today
Yes, I realize the day is still young (at least here at bookofjoe World Headquarters, where the time is 10:01 a.m.) but I'm still laughing a half-hour after I espied the following final sentence of an editorial (leader, in Brit parlance) in today's Financial Times about Kirk Kerkorian's announcement this week that he has amassed a 5% stake in Ford: "Mr. Kerkorian should buckle up for a long ride."
Yo, FT: Kerkorian will be 91 years old on June 6 of this year.
Ford only stopped making Model T's (above) in 1927, when he was a 10-year-old boy.
There's something to be said for theories of imprinting.
But I digress.
If I were Kerkorian I wouldn't even be buying green bananas, much less planning on riding Ford's stock "... for several years," as the FT advised.
World's Most Technical Carbonation Saver — Episode 2: The Fizz Strikes Back
I've spent at least 10 hours trying — without success — to understand exactly how this device works.
I even had my crack research team take a break from their deep web exploration activities to work with me on figuring it out.
Some might say that's a fool's errand.
But we have no room for haters here.
Anyway, still no luck.
Don't hold your breath.
The m.o. of the iteration featured nearly two years ago in Episode 1 was obvious on its surface.
I'm just saying, is all.
From the 2008 version's website:
Quik Top® Can-Cap
Reseal canned carbonated beverages by trapping carbonation in an airtight sealed chamber so the delicious fizz stays fresh for days.
Features a cap that doubles as a cup
or coaster, a bottle top for pouring and drinking ease, a filter with room for a straw that keeps insects out and a sturdy loop for hands-free transport.
3-1/4 x 3 x 1-1/2".
A matching set of 4 costs $14.98.