The possibility of performing surgery in space has been identified by a research team who studied the potential need to diagnose and treat medical issues encountered by future space travelers.
Known physiological alterations during space travel include fluid redistribution, cardiovascular changes, and bone and muscle atrophy. In addition to common illnesses and conditions, space travellers may also develop novel pathologies that could arise from prolonged weightlessness, exposure to cosmic radiation, and trauma
‘In order to perform surgery in space, potential surgical treatment modalities must consist of self‐sufficient and adaptive technology, especially in the face of uncertain pathophysiological mechanisms and logistical concerns.’
The authors note that the extreme environment of space produces several unique changes in human physiology that future practitioners of space-surgery must take into consideration.
"Manned space exploration has re-entered the public consciousness thanks to endeavors by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, amongst others," said lead author Dr. Sandip Panesar, of the University of Pittsburgh. "I became interested in the practical aspects of performing surgery in space. My literature search revealed that potential pathology and trauma situations would differ from those on earth due to specific physiological adaptations to the extraterrestrial environment."