My fourth week in Pathology advanced pretty regularly. With the holiday weekend no one I've been shadowing was around on Monday and so I only stayed around long enough to read a few papers and feed my cells. Tuesday came around and was a bit rushed because Neuropathology was essentially trying to fit two days into one. The experience was likely the busiest so far and was quite enjoyable. We started off in the morning reviewing cases with a resident which she wasn't sure about and then looked at a few frozen samples as they came up from surgery. We also had a few brain dissections to do at brain cutting, and then more samples to prepare and look at before a cancer board meeting. On Wednesday I finally managed to place the order for the last remaining reagent for my experiments as well as prepared some other materials around the laboratory for the beginning of my experiments.
Thursday morning I was able to follow Mingchee and observe the Da Vinci robot for the first time. I was actually really excited for this opportunity and it didn't let me down. Sure, most of the surgery takes place out of sight and can only be seen on screen, but there's something oddly satisfying about watching robots do our work. I was particularly interested in how it could ever be possible to automate the surgery, and was completely surprised by the appearance of an out of place artery on the patient. The surgeon mentioned it a few times, and joked about how the loss of it could produce erectile dysfunction problems, but was very careful to leave it intact and had to altar some of his approach to the surgery to do that. The head surgeon also had to take over for the younger doctor at points around the artery to make sure it came out okay.
While the presence of the artery seemed strange, the complications didn't seem too large. I'm interested in how often complications like that arise, and how many different things can change per procedure. It seems to me if we'd really like to have universal health care eventually we'll need to make procedures easy enough that less educated personal can perform them. Robots seem a huge step in that direction and the idea of automating the entire procedure doesn't seem to foreign to me.
In terms of my research project from this point on I'm pretty much just waiting for my materials to all arrive, and hoping to make some rapid progress after that. I have one early experiment to try with both positive and negative controls as well as a second set of experiments if the first goes successfully. Briefly, the first set is completely research based and uses only materials found in a research laboratory. If the experiments go successfully I can try them on actual clinical samples which the group has access to in the second set of experiments.
Overall this week has been successful in terms of both research and clinical work. Further, Dr. Frayer has set up for us to visit the ER in the next few weeks, which I really look forward too.