By Fabian Bimmer
When my boss, Joachim Herrmann, told me that I had to cover liver surgery using an iPad, I had no idea how an iPad could be helpful during an operation. I knew that iPhones, iPads and tablets were becoming more important in being useful in all sorts of activities in our daily life – but for surgeries?
We use these new toys in different ways: GPS for cars, during sporting activities, music, mail and for other ways to communicate. Some of my colleagues use tablet computers to present their portfolios and to operate their cameras. Swiss camera maker Alpa uses an iPhone as a viewfinder for their tilt and shift cameras. But I couldn’t imagine how an iPad would be helpful during an operation to remove two tumors from a liver.
Also, I knew nothing at all about livers or any surgery before this assignment.
To get a feel for the atmosphere, the hospital, light conditions and the team, I went to meet Professor Karl Oldhafer, chief physician of general and visceral surgery at the Asklepios Clinique in Hamburg-Barmbek, two days before I had to go through with my project. Actually being present at a surgical procedure I felt slightly uncomfortable. As I arrived at the hospital, I was confronted with an invitation by Professor Oldhafer to participate in a surgery there immediately.
Never having seen this amount of blood, massive cuts and all the different instruments being used, I was a little bit frightened. Would I faint? Would I be horrified when they cut open the stomach with a long knife? The “test run” went well, I survived and I had an idea what to expect in two days.