Surgeons are among growing tablet user base

Tablet computers are remarkably versatile and useful devices with vast potential for applications in various aspects of surgery, according to an article in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine. These mobile devices can be used in surgical consultations, operating theatres, post-operative care and surgical education, among other applications.

"The principal features of tablets--superior portability, technological strengths and wireless connectivity--open up new doors for advancement of new and existing surgical technologies," states the article. "This may translate to better patient care, higher hospital income and enhanced surgical training." 

Currently, the intra-operative uses for tablets are primarily in thoracic, orthopaedic and ophthalmic surgery where the article's authors find that it has "shown to improve surgical performance and safety." In addition, the article reveals that tablets also play a critical role in surgical consultation and telerounding via means of videoconferencing, which "allows for better communication between doctors and patients and improves care delivery."

Telerounding, in particular, can facilitate rapid post-operative review by surgeons, which can increase patient turnover, resulting in financial benefits for the hospital, asserts the article. Moroever, virtual dissection software on tablets improves surgical anatomy teaching, reduces the need for cadavers and simplifies the process of dissection.

However, "further research and innovation is the key to unlocking new prospects for tablets in improving the field of surgery," concludes the article.

In related news, an mHealth program awarded U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2011 is now helping doctors worldwide revolutionize knee replacement surgery. The program--a navigational system dubbed Dash--is used on a surgeon's iPod. It helps ensure that measurements used for incisions and placing the replacement knee are much more precise than the method more often used: aligning and securing the artificial joint by running a metal rod through the tibia.

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