The latest step toward engineering artificial life.
A U.S. surgeon removed a gall bladder through the patient's mouth. The procedure had been done previously in Brazil, but this is the first time it has been done in the United States. Method: Thread the instruments through the esophagus, then use them to snip a hole in the stomach, cut out the gall bladder, and pull it back out through the mouth. Rationale: less pain, scarring, and recovery time than you'd get from an incision in your abdominal wall. The surgeon says this method could turn gall-bladder surgery into a doctor's-office procedure. Doctors had already removed a woman's gall bladder through her vagina. Why switch to the mouth? Surgeon's answer: "Since only half the population has vaginas we were looking for a more universal platform." (For previous updates on natural orifice surgery, click here, here, and here.)
Latest Human Nature columns: 1) The reunion of man and beast. 2) The spread of virgin births. 3) The abolition of menstruation. 4) The chess match of man and machine. 5) Ultrasound and the future of abortion. 6) The global market in human organs. 7) The evolution of brains and morals. 8) Machines that read your mind. 9) Invasion of the naked body scanners. 10) The future of pain-beaming weapons.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of nun on Slate's home page by Digital Vision.