Straight out of Star Trek comes a potential new breakthrough in medical surgery – being able to operate inside a person without making an incision. By focusing ultrasound waves – the same used by OB/GYNs in prenatal care – in a way similar to focusing sunlight in magnifying glass, doctors may soon be able to disintegrate tissue several centimeters below the skin.
The new technique, called histotripsy (try saying that three times fast), causes cavitation – an effect that makes Sean Connery playing a Russian believable to American audiences. It also creates tiny bubbles that grow and collapse, releasing energy that liquefies the tissue at the desired site. While laser beams can be more powerful, what they cannot do is penetrate the skin without leaving burn marks.