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Computer Digest: Robot Does Surgery - 2001-08-14

Microsoft Disagrees It Violated Antitrust Law

Attorneys for the Microsoft Corporation have asked the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that the company is guilty of violating federal antitrust law.

The case involves claims that Microsoft limited competition by illegally linking its operating system with its Internet browsing software. In its request to the Supreme Court, Microsoft officials say that the original judge was biased, citing in particular, interviews Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson granted to the press while the trial was going on in which he was critical of the company. If it chooses to do so, the Supreme Court could hear the case when it reconvenes in October.

Computer-mania Hits Students

Colleges and universities throughout the United States are preparing to open their doors for the new academic year. And, many students will have their computers with them when they arrive on campus - especially small, portable laptop models.

"They use them in classrooms. They use them to do research online and they use them in many cases to do digital audio. Digital audio has become very important. We find that the computer has tied in your homework, your school work together with your research and your entertainment all into one little package," Ed Curran says.

Ed Curran is a technology expert who helps run the web site. He says that nearly 60% of college-aged Americans remember using technology such as computers, calculators and VCR's at home, or in the classroom, before even leaving elementary school.

"They grew up with high-tech. They embrace technology and use it all the time. More than 80% of college students will have a TV in their living space, 75% will have a VCR, four out of ten will bring a DVD player to school with them and four out of ten will have a video game system with them," he says.

Ed Curran says that the trend toward ever-more technology on campus is expected to continue.

Robot Does Heart Surgery

For the first time in the United States, surgeons repaired a human heart with a physician operated robot performing the entire operation.

"Robots have been used in surgery for the last few years, but only in most cases to do parts of the operations," Doctor Michael Argenziano says. Michael Argenziano, a surgeon at the New York's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, sat at a nearby control panel during the surgery. He says that before the special robotic devices were inserted, surgeons made three .65 centimeter incisions in the patient's chest…

"…And through these small puncture holes place three robotic arms which are about the diameter of a pencil. These arms, at the end, are fitted with surgical wrists and fingers which bend and twist, just like a human hand. The central arm has a camera which has two lenses which gives the surgeon three-dimensional vision. Then, the surgeon is able to sit at a very large video console, a lot like a video game in fact, put his hands into some special controls, his feet on some pedals and look into this three dimensional image and actually operate as if he were operating on the patient," he describes.

Doctor Argenziano says that conducting heart surgery with a robot is more difficult to perform than traditional heart surgery, which requires the chest cavity to be opened.

"We have been doing surgery the open way for 40 years. This is more difficult to learn. However, the benefits are clear. There is no question that smaller incisions, or the absence of incisions, eliminates the majority of the pain the patients feel, the complications associated with wound infections and with the slow recovery. The most important advantage is the recovery time is almost zero," the surgeon says.

Usually patients undergoing heart surgery take a month or more to recover. The patient who underwent the robotic surgery was well enough to lift her two-year-old daughter two days later.