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Medical team livetweets beating-heart surgery for the first time

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Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital brings the operating room to the Twitterverse

Subjecting Twitter to a play-by-play account of the contents of your lunch is one thing, but a hospital in Houston just took the micro-blogging service to intimate new heights. Tuesday morning, Memorial Hermann Medical Center livetweeted a beating heart double bypass operation on a 57-year-old male patient on its official Twitter account, @houstonhospital. The team also set up a hashtag, #mhopenheart, to invite other Twitter users to pose questions to a cardiologist during the procedure, and offered a video feed (captured by a helmet cam) so the not-so faint of heart could tune in live.

The surgery, performed by cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Michael P. Macris, wrapped up within roughly two hours and all went smoothly — a good thing, considering the Twitterverse was looking on, hopefully not in the midst of breakfast. The account issued a mix of live surgical updates ("Pericardium is being opened and retracted...stand by"), accompanying Twitpic photos, and cardiac facts interspersed with repeated warnings about the graphic nature of the tweets.

Less than two hours after the patient's chest was opened, surgeons had stitched him back up and sent him off to a four to seven day recovery process. Though the subject of the social media experiment remains anonymous to protect his privacy, we can only assume that he'll be livetweeting the quality of the hospital jello throughout. It's a shame that we weren't treated to the same level of surgical voyeurism when the coolest bionic octogenarian ever underwent surgery to transplant the world's first 3D-printed jawbone.

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