Do surgeons use math? (&How)

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Do surgeons use math?” and when, how, and why is math used in medicine.

Do surgeons use math?

Yes, surgeons use math. Surgeons require to understand basic functions of math such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to be successful in their professional life.

It is curious that students decide to go to the biology area, because supposedly it does not require the application of mathematics, without taking into account that its use is broader than one can imagine. Math is everywhere.

Regardless of the fact that biochemistry, physiology, genetics, pharmacology, and above all statistics, demand a fairly rigorous demand for calculations compared to biology. Doctors must handle many numbers on a daily basis

Surgical physicians use mathematics to;

  • Measure vital signs (temperature, respiration, blood pressure, and pulse).
  • Calculate the weight and height of the patient.
  • Calculate the dosing of medication.
  • Analyze laboratory figures in clinical analysis.
  • To calculate the probable date of delivery, based on the last menstruation.
  • To count the number of sutures.
  • Calculating volumes and concentrations of stuff in fluid resuscitation.
  • Biostatistics to calculate the possible: causes, consequences, or risks and effectiveness of treatments of diseases.

The surgeon has the need to process, interpret, communicate, and act based on numerical aspects to make effective health decisions. Little by little the distance between mathematics and medicine becomes shorter, and the moment will come when they cannot be separated.

Do plastic surgeries need maths?

Plastic surgeons are turning to mathematics to make advances in predicting favorable cosmetic results in patients. 

Dr. Alex Bronstein from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Tel Aviv University recently introduced a three-dimensional graphical tool that allows plastic surgeons to predict the final results of their operations.

However, this doesn’t seem to be a novelty since 3D imaging software has been a basic tool for plastic surgeons for years.

The big difference, in this case, is that this software shows the real result that would be obtained when doing the procedure and not what is usually done, which is simply changing the parameters of the figure to the patient’s specifications.

In many cases the patient indicates the result he expects and the surgeon plans the procedure to achieve it in the best possible way, sometimes obtaining catastrophic results. However, the 3-D tool looks like the solution. 

Giving to the doctor and the patient a more realistic result from a surgical point of view. 

Nevertheless, a three-dimensional graphic tool hasn’t been the only great advance that has provided us the use of mathematics in cosmetic surgery.

Mathematics in plastic surgery has taken the guesswork out of efforts to ensure that live tissue segments that are selected to restore damaged body parts will have enough blood and oxygen to survive the surgical transfer.

Mathematicians have shown, in the world the first published mathematical model of tissue transfer, using differential equations to determine which of the tissue segments selected for transfer from one part of the body to another in the same body are useful without losing the level of oxygen required for proper maintenance of the transplanted tissue.

The most common tissue transfers are used to restore parts of the body destroyed by cancer or serious injury.

Reliable mathematical modeling of blood and oxygen supplies in tissue segments not only reduce failures in reconstructive surgery, but also improve understanding of diseases in which adequate blood supply is a key problem, such as heart disease, cancer, and strokes.

Does math save lives?

Mathematics saves lives despite the fact that in adolescence many of us thought that they had ruined with its presence.

But how does math support our health? In the field of medicine, math is found everywhere equally. 

From knowing what the dosage of a drug should be, depending on the weight and age of the person, to measurements of blood pressure, fever, time spent sleeping, sick or have a headache, when measuring the size of a tumor, in an x-ray, or in a laparoscopic operation, for example.

In fact, for centuries mathematics has taken care of health in humans. The first biostatistical studies outlined when it was necessary to quarantine the sick. And thanks to math,  was detected the cause of cholera by the English doctor John Snow.

At the same time, mathematics can also predict how a disease will behave in certain circumstances.

Mathematics is an important pillar for innovation in the health area, creating technologies or methods that can improve our quality of life. An example of this is robotic surgeries.

Mathematical modeling is a branch that in medicine is becoming an important tool.

For example, a mathematical model was created by researchers in the USA and Germany to help oncologists predict how a tumor will grow, and even if and how it will metastasize.

Another example of a mathematical model that helped medicine was, in overdoses emergencies by acetaminophen.

When a patient is having overdosed on acetaminophen, sometimes it’s impossible to determine when and how much of the drug was ingested. 

Researchers at the University of Utah developed a set of differential equations that can help to better pinpoint the clinical information needed to accurately identify which treatment is adequate to give to save a patient’s life with overdose by acetaminophen. If an antidote or liver transplant.

What math do students need to become surgeons?

Students who are interested in becoming surgeons will need to be successful in the following list of math subjects below: 

Statistics

Statistics studies the methods and procedures to collect, classify, summarize, find regularities, and analyze data.

In medicine, the role of statistics is to help in making decisions and predictions

In medical situations where the results of a medical procedure are uncertain, statistics is an essential tool for making decisions based on objective information, which offers a guarantee of an adequate solution.

For example, predict in which population it’s easier to spread or have diseases.

Algebra

Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses letters, symbols, signs, and numbers to perform arithmetic operations. In other words, algebra is defined as the one in charge of studying numbers and their properties.

Algebra helps physicians to understand the relationship of medical devices, such as pacemakers.

Also, It helps doctors to understand how various molecules composed of chemicals with numerical bases interact with each other in the body. 

Calculus

The calculation consists of an algorithm (a set of pre-established instructions) that allows anticipating the result that will come from certain data that are known in advance. 

In other words, the calculation is all those operations (mostly mathematical) that aim to reach certain data or information and that require the development of a process prior to obtaining that result.

Physicians use calculus in many situations such as: 

  1. Calculus can help physicians to understand movements that may have inflicted injury on the body as well as the movement of the joints. 
  2. Calculus is used to understand the derive Poiseuille’s law which is used to calculate the velocity of blood flow in an artery or vein at a given point and time and volume of blood flowing through the artery.
  3. It can also help to understand the chemical reactions that occur in the body over time as well as the body’s evolving relationship to different medical devices. 
  4. Calculus can be used to find the rate of change of the shortening velocity with respect to the load when modeling muscle contractions.

Importance of mathematics in medicine

Mathematics has managed to invade daily life in human beings and in the area of health it’s no an exception.

Mathematics in the health field is very important since through it we can obtain data that are necessary to assess and treat the person who needs help. It should be said that most of these data are obtained by performing mathematical calculations.

You cannot do medical research and practice medicine without a knowledge of mathematics.

Mathematics in the medical profession has been the key so that today there is: epidemiology, master’s degrees, doctorates, infection control, etc.

The most visible application of mathematics at the moment is biostatistics. At the beginning of this millennium, the editors of a prestigious medical journal ranked it as one of the most important contributions that medicine received in the last millennium.

Medical professionals use math when drawing up statistical graphs of epidemics or success rates of treatments.

Mathematical applications in medicine are despised by many, however, it is the main basis of scientific development in health.

In the medical field, math skills include:

  • Interpretation of laboratory studies.
  • Understanding of nutritional information.
  • Calculation and adjustments of drug doses.
  • Interpretation of the results For decision making.

FAQSs: Do surgeons use math?

What math do doctors use?

Depends on specialty and type of practice. But generally, physicians use math when they write prescriptions or administer medication, reading X-rays, they use three-dimensional calculations as well two-dimensional X-rays, and when drawing up statistical graphs of epidemics or success rates of treatments.

Do surgeons eat during surgery?

Yes, surgeons can eat during surgery. The lead surgeons are usually involved throughout the long-duration so they are able to take a break, hydrate, or grab a snack, while can keep monitoring the procedure of surgery throughout to ensure continuity, but of course, they’ll always scrub in before returning to the surgery.

How long do surgeons stay in surgery?

Most of the lead surgeons stay in the operating room between 3 or 5 hours with a couple of breaks to eat and rest. However surgeries can be extended more than usual, that will depend on the patient’s, pathology, possible complications, and surgeon specialty 

How long is the longest surgery?

The longest surgery registered was in a Singapore Hospital in 2001 to be specific the surgery had a duration of 103 hours straight divided in shifts with 20 doctors, in twin girls of 11-month-old to separate their conjoined brain.

Which type of surgeon earns the most?

The surgeon specialty that earns the most according to Medscape is the radiologists and orthopedic surgeons for two consecutive years are the highest-paying specialty with $482,000, followed by cardiologists who earned $314,000 and anesthesiologists who made $309,000. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do surgeons use math?”and when, how, and why is math used in medicine.

So, can surgeons really live without math?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References

Hsu, G. (2018). Opinion Citation: Gerald C. Hsu. Using Math-Physical Medicine and Artificial Intelligence Technology to Manage Lifestyle and Control Metabolic Conditions of T2D. Diabetes Complications, 2(3), 1–7. Retrieved from http://www.scivisionpub.com/pdfs/using-mathphysical-medicine-and-artificial-intelligence-technology-to-manage-lifestyle-and-control-metabolic-conditions-of-t2d-412.pdf

Matveev, S.V. Generalized surgery of three-dimensional manifolds and representations of homology spheres. Mathematical Notes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR 42, 651–656 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01240455

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