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The Epitome of Problem Solving

Wed, 09/07/2011 - 6:41am
Amanda Hankel, editor
I have never been a fan of mathematics. The subject just doesn’t come as easily to me as, say, writing. Hand me a calculator and an equation, and my blood pressure immediately begins to rise. Give me a dictionary or thesaurus and ask me to write a story, I feel more comfortable.

I have never been a fan of mathematics. The subject just doesn’t come as easily to me as, say, writing. Hand me a calculator and an equation, and my blood pressure immediately begins to rise. Give me a dictionary or thesaurus and ask me to write a story, I feel more comfortable.

Despite this, in college I was unable to completely avoid taking a few math-related courses to fulfill my general education requirements. Desperate to avoid suffering through a semester of calculus, I enrolled in a problem solving course.

While still math-related, the course involved solving various word problems. In class, we would break into small groups or work independently to find their solutions.

While the actual problems themselves have not stuck with me, the concept of how to solve a problem has — that, I learned, was the value of the course. I learned that sometimes, thinking outside the box, being open to new ideas and teamwork can help to solve even the most difficult of problems.

I am reminded of these lessons in this issue of Surgical Products, where we showcase numerous individuals and companies who have ‘thought outside of the box’ to solve a surgical problem and, in the meantime, discovered a major advancement.

For example, you will read about surgeons at The Ohio State University Medical Center who teamed up to solve the problem of treating hard-to-reach skull base tumors. Using robotic and endoscopic technology, the doctors leveraged each others’ expertise to develop a combined robotic and endoscopic approach to skull base tumors. They recently performed the first two clinical cases in the world.

Another example of problem solving in the surgical community can be found in the story of Virox Technologies, Inc. and its industry partners. Virox conducted research in which it asked hospitals where they felt their cleaner/disinfectant products were lacking. Hospital professionals pointed to issues such as safety, efficacy and environmental-friendliness as areas in which they felt current solutions could be improved. With this feedback, Virox sought out to develop Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP), a cleaning/disinfecting formula that is said to be safer, more efficient and more ‘green.’

In a way, surgery is really the epitome of problem solving. Any new development in surgery — whether it is a new technique or technology — starts with a problem that needs to be solved. In fact, any time a surgeon operates on a patient, the ultimate goal is the same — to solve the problem. Furthermore, looking at the examples just in this issue, it’s clear that the same principles I learned in my college class apply in surgery — thinking outside of the box, trying new ideas and using a little teamwork can make all the difference in finding a solution to the problem.

What’s your take? E-mail me at amanda.hankel@advantagemedia.com

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