Surgical instrument restraint in weightlessness

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2001 Oct;72(10):871-6.


Background: Performing a surgical procedure during spaceflight will become more likely in the future as the duration of missions becomes longer. Only minimal surgical capability was available on previous missions since the definitive medical care time was short and the likelihood of a surgical event too low to justify carrying surgical hardware onboard. Early demonstrations of surgical procedures in the microgravity environment of parabolic flight indicated the need for careful logistical planning and restraint of surgical hardware. Human ergonomics also has more effect in microgravity than in the conventional 1-G environment.

Methods: Three methods of surgical instrument restraint--a Minor Surgical Kit (MSK), a Surgical Restraint Scrub Suit (SRSS), and a Surgical Tray (ST)--were evaluated in parabolic flight surgical procedures.

Results: The MSK was easily stored, easily deployed, and demonstrated the best ability to facilitate a surgical procedure in microgravity.

Conclusion: Important factors in a surgical restraint system for microgravity include excellent organization of supplies, ability to maintain sterility, accessibility while providing secure restraint, ability to dispose of sharp items and biological trash, and ergonomic efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Animals
  • Ergonomics
  • Restraint, Physical*
  • Surgical Instruments*
  • Swine
  • Weightlessness*