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Science
KNIFE TO SKIN
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Pull up a ringside seat at a surgical operation
Thursday 4 and 11 March 2004 21.00-21.30pm

Graham Easton joins a surgical team as they begin a life-saving operation, finding out what goes through the surgeons' mind as they put knife to skin.

Operation
Surgeons at Charing Cross Hospital performing
an EVAR operation

Programme 1

In this programme, Graham Easton scrubs up for surgery and follows an operation as told through the eyes of the surgeon wielding the scalpel and the patient lying on the table.

In this first programme, Graham reports from the Charing Cross Hospital in London, where vascular surgeon Roger Greenhalgh and his team are about to operate on Ted Hodges. Ted has an aortic aneurysm – the medical term for a weak, bulging artery. If the artery bursts before they can operate there is a very good chance that Ted will die. Burst aneurysms account for 10,000 deaths a year in the UK.

However,a new procedure called Endovascular Aneurysm Repair or EVAR, means that Ted can remain awake whilst surgeons operate on the bulge from inside his artery via two small cuts in his groin.
Tiny coil
Image showing how the stent graft looks
once in place inside the aneurysm

The operation is in two stages. Part one involves blocking off one of Ted's arteries with up to 20 tiny metal coils. Part two is the trickier task of placing artificial stents inside the aneurysm itself.

Throughout the operation both Ted and the surgical team reveal their thoughts and fears to Graham Easton.

Listen again Listen again to Programme 1
Operation
Surgeon Lester Wilson uses X-rays throughout
the operation to check he is in the right place

Programme 2

Graham Easton joins spinal surgeon Lester Wilson of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, as he scrubs up for a procedure known as IDET or Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy. IDET is used to repair a damaged lumbar disc that is causing terrible back pain to patient Natalie Reynolds.

The basic idea is to get inside one of Natalie’s discs with a needle and heat it up to 90 degrees, which in turn has the effect of repairing a fine tear in the disc that is the source of the pain. But as Graham discovers, the procedure comes with no guarantees and is still controversial despite being practised for more than seven years.

Listen again Listen again to Programme 2
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