Surgery: Under Pressure

Time was when a surgeon needed little more for an operation than his kit of instruments and an assistant to drip ether onto the gauze held over the patient's nose and mouth. But since technology has taken over, today's operating theaters contain surgical teams numbering a dozen or more specialists controlling batteries of instruments from heart-lung machines and artificial kidneys to monitoring devices recording every thing from pulse and breathing to brain waves.

But for all this equipment the major risks were nonetheless run by the man on the operating table. The...

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