Henry Ford surgeons twitter from OR

By Molly Merrill
03:14 PM

Surgeons at the Henry Ford Health System, a Detroit-based non-profit healthcare system, used Twitter last month to educate the public on a live robotic surgery.

Alex Hrynewych, a second year OBGYN resident at Henry Ford, used the micro-blogging service to provide 140 character updates of the robotic hysterectomy and to respond to questions from the public.

Images of the surgery, such as the dissection of the uterus from the pelvic wall and the suturing of the vaginal cuff, were also posted on YouTube.

David I. Eisenstein, MD, performed the surgery sitting at a console and using instruments attached to a robot, while the rest of the surgical team operated other instruments laparoscopically to assist the primary surgeon.

A 3-D image of the surgery site was picked up by a camera and displayed on a large screen in the OR. It enabled Hrynewych to see and hear everything during the surgery, but to be out of the way of the sterile field. Though performed robotically, the operation is still considered a laparoscopic surgery. The use of a robot allows for more fluid, controlled movements, explained Hrynewych.

A robotic surgery adds OR time because of the many additional steps in setting up, he said, but it does allow the patient to spend less time at the hospital in recovery.

William Ferris, Web Services manager at Henry Ford, said Henry Ford is considering using Twitter for more surgeries  -  this was the hospitals third surgery to use Twitter.

Using Twitter allows the health system to educate the public on innovative medical cases or more common cases that may appeal to a larger audience and may help answer questions, he said.

"This is another way for patients to access our organization," he said.

Twittering is an "opportunity to help explain to a wider audience what it is that OBGYNs do and some of the tools at our disposal," added Hrynewych. The forum is a chance to explain medicine in laymen's terms, he said.