Laser Scalpels



Description


The laser scalpel has become a valuable tool in the surgeon’s kit for specialized surgeries in the recent decades, starting in the 1960’s [1]. This laser scalpel is a scalpel, usually used in surgery, that uses a finely tuned laser beam to create intricate incisions in tissue, allowing for varied cutting depths and strengths [1]. The benefits of laser scalpels include a greater precision, reduction of bleeding via instantaneous cauterization of wounds, and faster healing for the patient [1].
There are multiple types of laser scalpels, and common types include: gas lasers, excimer (or ultraviolet) laser, and free electron lasers. Gas lasers tend to have a powerful and continuous infared beam, and tend to be used in procedures such as dermabrasion and resurfacing, or the removal of tissue abnormalities [2]. The excimar laser, is generally used in optical procedures to correct vision by reshaping the cornea, like within Lasik procedures [2]. Finally, the free electron laser tends to be used for soft tissue surgeries involving brain tissues and skin [2].

The future for laser scalpels is bright and offers up many advantages to current systems. According to Changhui Yang, there is a possibility of “doing incision-less surgery” and with new technology, “we can potentially use that as a laser scalpel that leaves the skin unharmed” [3]

Aside from all these positives, there are drawbacks: Laser scalpels don't give a surgeon the same tactile feedback that a standard scalpel would. Additionally, they’re unsuitable for applications where collateral damage to surrounding tissue is a concern, as the heat from the laser can affect tissue around it.

Applications

Vocal cord surgery
Closing small blood vessels
Tumor removal
Eye Surgery

Web Resources

Lasers vs Scalpels

Related terms

Nanomedicines
Laparoscopic Surgery

References


http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904021,00.html
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002958.htm
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-laser-scalpel.htm
http://www.futurity.org/top-stories/laser-scalpel-would-leave-skin-unharmed/
http://sourcing.indiamart.com/medical/surgical-instruments-tools/surgical-products-and-accessories/laser-scalpel/