Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



2008. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 31: 69-76; Copyright © 2008 Miller, Luxon, and Nelson


During any extended mission to an extreme environment (i.e. the International Space Station, a lunar base or a manned mission to Mars) the chances of an otherwise minor mJury becoming life threatening grow to be significant. In order to address these concerns, equipment must be provided to diagnose and treat a wide range of possible afflictions while direct contact with Earth-based physicians is impossible. Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is an excellent treatment option due to its history of decreasing trauma in patients and speeding recovery. In an effort to provide the maximum functionality for any given MIS procedure, an intelligent modular surgical system has been designed and is being further refined to assist surgeons and other practitioners during medical procedures without necessitating the inclusion of many different instruments. The overall design approach was to identify the functions of existing technology and then to design a device that combined functionalities whenever possible to minimize the overall complexity of the design. The intelligence in the design is intended to make finding instruments easier for the individual performing the surgical procedure rather than replace humans in the operating theater. This paper presents analysis quantifying the payload reduction achieved by the new modular design as it pertains to extended missions to extreme environments. In addition to assisting surgeons, this system will take approximately 25% less space than the current equivalent MIS tools.

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