Nanotechnology and robotic surgery accelerating medical progress

Medical use of nanotechnology and robotic surgery is accelerating, bringing futurist technology to the fore of conventional health care.

In 2001, Ralph Snyderman, MD, Dean at Duke University Medical Center and a supporter of integrative medicine, astonished the audience at the Harvard-Stanford conference on complementary and alternative medicine that the integrative medicine of the future would integrate holistic health and CAM therapies with cutting-edge, then-futuristic conventional medical therapies such as genetic therapy.

In a few short years we've moved beyond that and into the world of nanotechnology and robotics, all of which those advocating "integrative medicine" will somehow have to fit into the concept of integration.

Researchers at Rice University and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have determined that carbon nanotubes injected directly into the bloodstream of research lab animals cause no immediate adverse health effects and circulate for more than one hour before they are removed by the liver. "The findings are from the first in vivo animal study of chemically unmodified carbon nanotubes, a revolutionary nanomaterial that many researchers hope will prove useful in diagnosing and treating disease. The research will appear in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

On another front, UT Southwestern Medical Center surgeons are the first in North Texas to perform robotically assisted laparoscopic gastric-bypass and colon-resections surgeries. "The procedures were performed using DaVinci, a four-armed robot controlled by the surgeon via a joystick. DaVinci can provide better camera views and more precise surgical manipulations than are available in traditional laparoscopic surgeries.

The robot can offer easier access to some of the more inaccessible places in the body such as abdominal and gastrointestinal areas. As a result, laparoscopic surgeons expect the robotic procedures to grow in popularity for colon, gastric and esophageal operations, said Dr. Edward Livingston, chairman of GI/endocrine surgery."

Somehow "nano" and "holism" will have to be reconciled, perhaps starting with the notion that the whole person includes the very microscopic (and beyond), such that holism can embrace new insights from discoveries in the nano-realms.
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law, with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is also President of the the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine, also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society. The Institute serves as a reliable forum for investigation and recommendations regarding the legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care.

The most recent book written by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary and alternative medicine and related fields is an interdisciplinary collection of essays entitled, Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, the first being Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998).