Blog | Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Twittering in the OR

We're getting used to seeing everything on YouTube these days, and surgery is no exception. Now, technology is letting us eavesdrop as well. As CNN reported yesterday, physicians used Twitter to give a blow-by-blow account of removing a cancerous tumor from a man's kidney at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. (CNN notes that you can read the "Tweetstream" and link to the YouTube video here).

The surgeon's musings during the operation were dutifully recorded in real time on Twitter by the chief resident. "Tweeple" (Twitter users) worried along with the surgical team when the surgeon announced that the tumor was larger than expected and may require a radical nephrectomy. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief after bleeding was controlled and a successful partial nephrectomy accomplished.

The surgeon said he agreed to Twitter because he wanted to show that a tumor could be removed without taking the entire kidney. Other Twitter enthusiasts say it engages people in medicine and makes complicated procedures more understandable. But is Twittering for everyone or is it an example of social networking run amok?