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French surgeons prep for zero-grav surgery

Benign tumour faces weightless extraction

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French surgeons will today board a modified Airbus A300, dubbed "Zero-G", to carry out the world's first weightless surgery on a human, the BBC reports.

During a three hour flight above south west France, the sawbones will use 20 second periods of weightlessness - provided by the aircraft flying parabolic curves - to remove a benign tumour from the arm of an intrepid volunteer.

The surgeons will be secured by straps to the Airbus's fuselage, while the patient is "held inside a plastic tent". The metal operating table provides a fixing point for surgical instruments fitted with magnets.

Chief surgeon Dominique Martin told AFP: "Since February we have been rehearsing this operation on the ground and in the plane. It is all crystal clear in our heads."

Martin and his team have already performed one airborne zero-grav operation when they earlier this year "mended an artery in a rat's tail 0.5mm in diameter". The procedures form part of a long-term project "to study the possibility of carrying out surgery during long-distance space flights", the BBC notes. ®

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