Good Question: Can Astronauts Perform Surgery In Space?

The challenges of space travel is the subject of this Good Question. Mikel Schmidt of Half Moon Bay asks: If someone had appendicitis in space, can they perform surgery?

ANSWER: According to Ben Burress at the Chabot Space and Science Center, they can do surgery in space. If necessary, even life saving surgery can be done.

But NASA prefers to send very sick astronauts back to Earth via the Russian escape capsule if it’s that serious.

Our video report has more.

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved)

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  • Ernest

    Obviously, there would be certain challenges performing surgery in zero gravity, as organs arteries, veins, etc would float around inside the body instead of being pushed down by the force of gravity. However, I am sure, tools such as forceps, could be used to hold down organs, veins, arteries, etc. IV drips, blood, etc would have to be put under pressure, since they couldn’t rely on gravity. Doctors would have to be extra watchful for blood loss, because, the blood would simply pool where it is, unless the force of it coming out of the body is enough to make it bubble out. Researchers should be doing animal experiments, but I’m sure some animal rights activist would freak out. I’m not talking needless research, like doing helmet crash test on Gorillas, who’s skulls are thicker than humans. I’m talking research, that will save human lives. Countless human lives have been saved by animal research. Is it true that some research is wrong, like that done by cosmetic companies, using ingredients, that shouldn’t be in cosmetics in the first place. I mean, many cosmetics have lead in them, no one needs to tell you, that’s a bad idea. Its just like the banning of stem cell research, the rest of the world is beating the US, just like they are in Education, because the US refuses to make the hard choices, and make reforms in education, that are a long time coming. Its no wonder we are 25th out of 30, of the industrialized nations in Math and Science. Whenever it comes to making any decisions about science, we always lean to the far right, who don’t even want evolution taught in school, let alone money spent on the space program. They don’t want stem cell research done, even though, it has been shown that, it could lead to cures for people with neurological disorders, spinal injuries, damage from strokes, etc. Again, the rest of the industrialized world will pass us up in high tech medicine, as well as other technologies, as their populations become smarter, and ours become more illiterate and uneducated. You may ask what does this have to do with surgery in space? I say everything, because, for every dollar spent on space and military research, the US gets 7 dollars back towards the private sector. That translates into jobs, a better economy, and a higher standard of living for all Americans. Instead, the research is happening in other countries, because our educational system from k-12 through our Universities are under funded. Unlike other countries, we have no National Standards. Teachers here have tonier after two years, and its almost impossible to fire them. Bad teachers know, they have a job for life, and good teachers know, their hard work won’t be rewarded, other than via the appreciation of their students and parents. If this country is to attain the economic, scientific, and social magnificence worthy of our forefathers, we must build an education system, a community, and a Nation that they would be proud of.

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