Cutting without cutting – surgery goes zen

Cavitation - it's not just for Red October 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.

(via SciTechDaily, image from youngdoo)

2 thoughts on “Cutting without cutting – surgery goes zen”

  1. There is nothing new about this. “Lithotripsy” has been used to non-invasively break up kidney stones for at least a decade. It is performed with focused sound waves in a liquid bath, which improves the acoustic coupling to the tissues.

  2. Interesting. Now that you mention it, I do recall hearing something about lithotripsy and kidney stones before.

    I think the news here is that while lithotripsy works on hard masses (like kidney stones and bones), this new technology should enable softer tissues to be broken down.

    As they say, nothing’s truly new, everything’s derivative of something.

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