This week I saw another interesting application for a muscle flap in surgery. The patient had an esophageal fistula (an abnormal connection between the epithelium around the esophagus) due to the radiation treatment he had received earlier. This was removed by Dr. Kutler, an otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon), which left a hole in the throat that Dr. Spector proceeded to close. This called for a muscle flap, using the patient's pectoralis muscle. The muscle was literally released from the chest and then flipped over to cover the throat. The wound in the chest was closed, and a skin flap from the patient's leg covered the muscle flap. This was a very interesting surgery that led me to wonder just how these surgeries are developed in the first place. Who would have thought the pectoralis muscle would be a good flap for the throat??
In addition to this surgery, I spoke with an oncologist, Dr. Simmons, who specializes in removal of invasive breast cancer. This meeting was very informative, as I learned about cancer and talked with her a bit about my project, which hopefully will in the future be able to test cancerous tissue. I will be observing one of her surgeries next Wednesday, which will give me a different perspective of cancer-removal surgery.
The remainder of my week was spent on my project, testing the stiffness of different tissue, calibrating the device, and retesting. I am working on the analysis of this data, mostly analyzing stiffness differences in muscle and fat. Eventually this device could test different tissue (both diseased and healthy), but for my immersion project, I am simply doing a proof-of-concept on the device, to ensure that it works properly. So far I have been getting good results!