Master surgeon practises on grapes

By Xinhua in Changsha | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-06 07:29

Master surgeon practises on grapes

Zhou Jianbo (right) performs an operation at Hunan Provincial People's Hospital in Changsha, Hunan province.Photos By Li Ga / Xinhua

Doctor uses fragile fruit to hone suturing skills, improve coordination

Surgery often entails performing delicate procedures that require great dexterity and no small amount of finesse.

Such skills can be taught in a variety of different ways, but for Zhou Jianbo, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Hunan Provincial People's Hospital, nothing beats practicing with grapes and cotton swabs.

A picture of Zhou using 10-centimeter-long surgical swabs as chopsticks to eat his lunch of rice and ham went viral after it was posted online recently. Some netizens teased him, asking why the delivery guy hadn't brought any proper utensils, but the surgeon said he had been eating with swabs for two years to improve the flexibility in his fingers, which helps when handling surgical knives.

Master surgeon practises on grapes

At first, Zhou said he was quite clumsy with the swabs, taking twice as long to eat a meal as he would do otherwise. But now, using both hands, he can eat just as fast as with chopsticks.

Competition is fierce for medical professionals in China's major hospitals, who need to be able to endure the pressure of a heavy workload while continuously improving their skills to stand out from the crowd. At age 41, Zhou became an associate professor, the second-highest professional title for doctors in China. He specializes in cancer surgery and benign tumors of the sinuses, head and neck.

Rookie surgeons often use bananas and pork legs to practice on, but Zhou uses grapes to help perfect the delicate finger movements required.

He cuts open the skin of a grape before using surgical needles to stitch it back up again, endeavoring to avoid any further damage to the fragile fruit.

"This method trains coordination between the hands, eyes, and the brain," Zhou said. "Keeping the grapes intact requires you to precisely control the force of your fingers."

Zhou performs five to six surgeries on his busiest days, but still finds time to practice on grapes at least once a week.

In addition, he regular exercises his fingers while on the bus or watching television.

Liang Hui, a colleague of Zhou's, said many doctors explore various different methods to improve their skills.

"All these efforts are aimed at improving medical skills for better and safer treatment," Liang said.

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