Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Performing surgery

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2257 (Published 03 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2257
  1. Roger Kneebone, reader in surgical education,
  2. Rajesh Aggarwal, clinical lecturer in surgery
  1. 1Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology, Imperial College London, London
  1. Correspondence to: R Kneebone r.kneebone{at}imperial.ac.uk

    Public education or thrill seeking voyeurism? Roger Kneebone and Rajesh Aggarwal find last week’s televised surgery a little bit of both

    In Surgery Live last week, four operations were televised on Channel 4. On consecutive nights expert teams carried out major procedures, which were relayed in real time. The four were highly complex—mitral valve repair, resection of a brain tumour, laparoscopic fundoplication, and removal of a pituitary tumour.

    This was breathtaking theatre, in every sense. The operations themselves displayed stunning skill and technical mastery. And the sense of presence, of being in the same space as the surgeon, gave an immediacy that we have never seen on television before.

    But if these programmes were about enlightening the public, an important concern surfaces at once. Seeing these procedures is one thing but understanding them quite another. Even for us as surgeons, watching operations from an unfamiliar specialty can be deceptive. The transnasal removal of a pituitary tumour through an endoscope, for example, was …

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