Sometimes when Outliers reads the latest medical technology news, we get a little freaked out. Nanobots that will snake through your body and perform heart surgery? Cells that can perform Boolean logic functions? What's next? Will they shrink a submarine and its crew to microscopic size and inject it into your bloodstream to cure you?
Oh, wait. That's an old Raquel Welch movie, “Fantastic Voyage.” (IMDb.com informs us clips of the film were used by medical schools for years “to illustrate various concepts in human anatomy, physiology, and especially immunology.” But we digress.)
But the other two items are more fact than science fiction. Scientists and doctors already are using snake robots to perform surgery on hearts, prostate cancer and other diseased organs, with the snake-bots carrying tiny cameras, scissors and forceps, according to the Associated Press. The latest version has a head whose diameter is smaller than a dime. And scientists say it's only a matter of time before the snake-bots are made nano-size.
“It's like the ability to have little hands inside the patients, as if the surgeon had been shrunken, and was working on the heart valve,” says Dr. Michael Argenziano, the chief of adult cardiac surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center in New York.