Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week 7 - Jenny Puetzer

Wow, seven weeks sure can fly by quick! It is hard to believe that summer immersion has already come to an end after looking forward to it for over a year. This was such a great opportunity to see and learn so much in the medical field that I never thought would be possible without an M.D. beside my name.

This week I was able to wrap up my summer immersion term with a trip to the cardiac thoracic department to see a triple coronary artery bypass, also called a CABG. This surgery was extremely different from any of the other surgeries I saw this summer and was a great opportunity to see a lot more technology used in the medicine field. I was able to see an echo preformed and the patient placed on bypass (the heart-lung machine). The patient had three clogged arteries so a vein was taken from the upper right thigh of the patient and divided into two sections to bypass two of the clogs, while the third clog was bypassed by using a mammary artery. It was very interesting to see how quickly and minimally invasively the PA was able to remove the vein from the thigh and prepare it for the bypass. During the surgery I was able to stand at the head of the patient and look down into the chest cavity as the surgeons worked. It was amazing to see the heart working in person. We have spent so many years now as biomedical engineers learning about the heart and all that it does, and then to get the chance to see it in action is just amazing. Additionally it was very impressive how quickly the surgeons were able to perform the bypass. The patient was only on the bypass machine for 32 minutes.

This week I was also able to take a tour of the biomechanics research facility at HSS. This will be very helpful if in the coming years I find I need certain equipment to perform my research.

What I feel I have gained most from summer immersion is motivation for the rest of my career. You can read statistics on how many people are effect, and how injuries affect patients lives over and over again from journal articles but it doesn’t really sink in until you get to experience firsthand these statistics in real life. My research in undergrad and graduate school has and will focus around the orthopedic field. Obviously, this field does not have the high life threatening problems as does the cardiac and cancer fields, so it is easy to lose motivation or feel your research will only help the super athletes. However, through seeing patients and observing surgeries this summer, I have begun to wrap my head around just how many people are plagued by orthopedic problems that have no solution other then total replacement, which only then lasts 10 years max. There is a real need for multiple solutions so that these people can live without pain every day of their lives. I am confident these past few weeks on summer immersion will stay with me the rest of my career and fuel my research.

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