Invisible progress: surgical hemostats

I too sometimes go for the "where's my jetpack?", Great Stagnation negativity about technological progress over the past few decades.

But progress is steady, and to a large extent invisible. I recently wrote a press release for a client about surgical hemostats, internal tissue sealants, and adhesion barriers.  This is a whole range of materials the control internal blood flow and connect up tissues, largely during surgery. There is intense competition, and new forms of these are constantly being developed. If you go into surgery, one of these is probably used during the procedure. But who outside of a surgical suite has ever heard of the things?

And, yes, I presume a new combination thrombin/gelatin surgical hemostat (thrombin for the clotting, gelatin as a physical blood barrier) is more expensive than its predecessor.  Surgeries have certainly been performed successfully without it. But each small advance adds up. I bet a surgeon in 2011, if he or she had to perform a surgery in 1991, would be startled by how many taken-for-granted little advances there have been in those two decades, and how retrospectively difficult and dangerous surgery back in that dark age really was.  Ditto for someone in 2031 coming back to now.

Dull for a science fiction writer to fit compellingly into a story, however, unless maybe the gelatin is made to hold some mysterious material with more dire effects... SF is not usually about the use of technology, but its creative misuse.

Progress is a bunch of nanobots transforming things at a level below the visible.

Hey!  Where are my nanobots? I figured we'd all be gray goo by now....