Off to the OR!
Tomorrow is the big day, our second experiment and while I’m a little nervous, I’m also excited to see what we can do. Last time around we had some issues… okay a lot of issues, but that’s because it was the first time we’ve ever tried something like this. This time around we worked with the team that will be in the OR with us so we know what they are doing and this time they know what we are doing. Basically we’re aiming for a whole lot less drama and a whole lot more useable data, meaning any usable data!
I didn’t really get a chance to talk about the results from the last experiment (here), but the story goes something like this. We have two sets of equipment in the OR, the clinical equipment used to monitor the patient and our experimental equipment which we use to record the data for our experiment (hence experimental equipment). The problem is we are doing part of the experiment and the clinical team is doing the other part of the experiment. So we need a way to sync our data with their data or none of it is going to be useful. To do that I tried (and failed) to come up with a technique that would let us sync everything together, it would’ve worked, but we didn’t have enough connectors so I did my best and hoped it would work.
Since it didn’t all our data is useless. It looks pretty, but it’s useless. I tried, hospital-PI tried, there was just no saving it. Thankfully this time around we sat with the clinical team and came up with different ways to solve the problem. We have redundancies to avoid having bad data this time around, which I’m happy to say I got to be a part of the design process for, so I feel pretty good about this since syncing equipment is basically 90% of what I do in school-PIs lab because we have a lot of different equipment that doesn’t talk to each other directly, which is a pain, but welcome to the wide world of research!
If you’ve been following for some time you know the drill, but I cannot talk about the experiment directly or what we hope to find, but I can (and have been) talking in generalities. It makes for frustrating blogging, but this is coming up as it happens, so you’ll have to wait to find out how the story ends when we get to the publication phase (or the oops we didn’t find anything phase, which is not the phase we want to find ourselves in). I’m really excited about some of the experiments we’re about to attempt and it turns out hospital-PI has tacked on a few other experiments to try while we’re in the OR so it should be interesting to see what happens.
Today we’re meeting to test the equipment and go over the protocol. We’ll be setting up the software and making sure everything is working the way we want it to work. Over the weekend I had my soldering project, which went well, but there were some weird things that happened. The wire was not what I was expecting, so that made for a tricky bit of problem solving, but it’s done, everything looks good, so we should be in the clear. The problem is noise, so we’re testing the wires to see what kind of outside noise we will be expecting. Ideally it would be minimal, but inside an OR there are a lot of electrically “loud” pieces of equipment, because that’s not something you typically have to worry about in an OR.
However, we’re hoping our equipment will work well enough in our test session that it won’t matter so much in the OR and the noise will be minimal. We also have to verify that our equipment will not interfere with the equipment that the clinical team will be using. We know it doesn’t, but they don’t and after the last bit of headache, we have decided to let them setup first, then test, then we setup and they verify that the result is the same they had before we setup. That seems to be the smoothest way for us to solve that problem.
Generally speaking the whole thing comes down to time and how quickly we can set everything up. The faster we can go the happier everyone will be. If we fumble then we have to either cut the experiment short, or cut parts of it out. Which is why for the past few days we’ve been revising our experiment timeline, going over the details on paper, checking the equipment, etc. We can’t have anything go wrong and if something goes wrong we need to be able to fix it right away. We are currently in the good graces of surgical-PI and the clinical staff, we are there because they allow us to be there, so we want to make certain that we stay on their good side.
All in all, today will be an interesting day. We’ve already went over everything once and by the time this post goes live I will be headed back to the lab space to go over everything a second time. I would write tomorrow’s post tonight, but I think instead I’ll just write a later post and update everyone on how it went. The dataset we will be collecting is going to be very exciting and even if parts of the experiment fail, as long as we get some good data we will have succeeded in the overall goal. Plus the more we do this the better we will get and hopefully the less stressed hospital-PI and the clinical staff will be having us around.
That said, it’s time to go test equipment again!