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Medicine Technology

Surgeons Weld Wounds Shut With Surgical Laser 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the amazing-laser dept.
Ruach writes "The promise of medical lasers goes beyond clean incisions and eye surgery: Many believe that lasers should be used not just to create wounds but to mend them too. Abraham Katzir, a physicist at Tel Aviv University, has a system that may just do the trick and is proving successful in its first human trials."
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Surgeons Weld Wounds Shut With Surgical Laser

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  • by Michael_gr (1066324) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:41AM (#25907125)
    Now that is a surprise. That always struck me as funny, the way they just beamed at some wound and it closed.
    • It would be interesting if this could be used in the creation of people like Wolverine, only the body doesnt need mingboggling regeneration capabilities, they just weld the wounds shut. Sign me up!
      • by 1stvamp (662375)

        People like Wolverine..........as long as they can take time out after every injury to run a "fricken' laser" beam over their wounds.

        • What if... (Score:5, Funny)

          by denzacar (181829) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:39AM (#25907543) Journal

          ...they had lasers on the INSIDE beaming out when ever their flesh is pierced? You know, like having lasers in the blood.
          How come Marvel didn't yet come up with such an awesome character?
          Would such a combination make the character some kind of a weird Wolverine-Cyclops hybrid?
          What would Jean Grey think about that?

          • by 1stvamp (662375)

            She'd probably try to guiltily screw it before dying for the 64^10th time...for a while.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by b4upoo (166390)

      What kind of rod does one use for that weld?

      • by trburkholder (307597) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:50AM (#25907767) Homepage

        From TFA:

        "All a surgeon has to do is move the pen's tip along the cut, strengthening and sealing the weld with a solder of water-soluble protein."

        It looks a lot like very controlled cooking and I suspect the protein used to connect the tissue denatures in the process. It's not welding, it's hot-melt glue.

        Still very cool.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Robocoastie (777066)
          hmm isn't that a modern way of the old heat a knife over a fire then burn the wound closed with the side of it like on movies?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SpiderClan (1195655)
            I would imagine it's much less painful and leaves less of a scar.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bearhouse (1034238)

            hmm isn't that a modern way of the old heat a knife over a fire then burn the wound closed with the side of it like on movies?

            I think the modern version of that would be using superglue. Both effective but fairly brutal & 'last resort'.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by demonlapin (527802)
              Actually, superglue is quite effective at closing skin (though large wounds still need to have the deep layers closed). The monomers used are designed not to produce as much heat during curing as the home-use ones, but they're still cyanoacrylate adhesives.
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          I think a better analogy would be that this is like soldering for the body.

          Can anyone translate this to car analogy?

          • I think a better analogy would be that this is like soldering for the body.

            Can anyone translate this to car analogy?

            One word: Bondo.

    • "Imagine that sort of device in the hands of your unscrupulous friends. They would sneak up behind you and seal your ass shut as a practical joke. The devices would be sold in novelty stores instead of medical outlets."

      - Why real life will never be like star trek, The Dilbert Future, by Scott Adams

  • The real news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:43AM (#25907135)

    As usual, the summary misses the interesting bit. Using lasers to seal wounds is old news - I first read about it in the Readers Digest about a decade ago. What's new here is a mechanism to prevent overheating.

    • This shit needs to make it to battlefield medics sooner than later.

      • The shit in question was probably developed with the battlefield in mind in the first place. Just like Superglue, which was developed so seal off wounds of injured soldiers.

        • Re:The real news (Score:4, Interesting)

          by davester666 (731373) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:25AM (#25907505) Journal

          Cuz that's what medics want to carry. A large battery pack with a small laser, while humping a guy back to the aid station. Or maybe a gas generator.

          Hell, it could be dual use. As a weapon, it can blind enemy combatants or slice open their skin, but when the enemy gets closer, you bend over a wounded comrade and claim to be a medic, and that it's your laser scalpel/magical healing device.

          • by c6gunner (950153)

            "Cuz that's what medics want to carry. A large battery pack with a small laser, while humping a guy back to the aid station. Or maybe a gas generator."

            Mount it in a vehicle. Most of our ops these days are mounted anyway, so why have medics lugging shit around? Depending on just how much space it takes up, you could probably put one in each HMMWV and Bradley. Or, failing that, you could have a designated vehicle for the medics.

    • Re:The real news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @07:49AM (#25907759) Homepage Journal
      You are right on that. My sister was doing laser cellular reconstructive surgery ( Transoral Laser Microsurgery ) 12 years ago with a Neodymium Yttrium Arsenic Garnet ( Nd YAG ) 100 watt continuous laser. Here is a link to that laser created in 1964. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nd-YAG_laser [wikipedia.org]. I would have RTFA, but it was slashdotted already. I still think if a shark did it, that would be news.
  • This would be great if your leg had been bitten by a shark!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cauterizing lasers, for the conscientious shark.

  • by cjfs (1253208) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:49AM (#25907163) Homepage Journal

    First, they had to determine the optimal temperature at which flesh melts but can still heal (about 65 degrees Celsius).

    I don't envy the test subjects.

    • Oh, don't worry they didn't start by decreasing by one degree on someone counting down from 500 Celsius. They started at 425. It cooks french fries quite well. The article doesn't mention the use of anesthetic or painkillers.

      So yeah, being a test subject would suck! But, you probably get $20 for your time. And a 'consult' with a doctor.

  • ... the false Laser will take it from you.
  • by Splab (574204) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:01AM (#25907211)

    sharks with friggin lasers on their heads?

    I mean the poor thing is going to keep biting and not understand why the pray wont die.

    • not at all, now they can rip your leg open, close it up, and have another go...
      so sharks will be able to play with their food now :p
      it's just like having a play toy that keeps giving..
      I'm never going to the beach again...
    • I'm sure that the prey prays that it won't die.
  • The whole point. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Surreal Puppet (1408635) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:11AM (#25907251) Journal

    The whole point of this new method is that you can cauterize a wound without charring the flesh, instead just melting it. The optimal temperature for this is, apparently, 60-70 deg. C., and this is maintained using feedback from an infrared sensor on the "soldering pen". They apparently also use a water soluble protein as "solder". The scars on in the TFA pictures look real nice. Wonder if the wound will hurt more or less than a conventionally sealed wound?

  • Wouldn't this leave some rather ugly scars?

    A clean cut can heal in a way that has minimal impact. When you melt flesh you're doing lasting, siginificant changes that doesn't really heal. You'll change a thin white line that fades with a tan to a large pink splotch on the skin that won't really ever go away.

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Heh, I think you're underestimating how *tiny* lazor beams can get. With this, there should be *zero* evidence of scarring, once the skin grows over.

    • by ijakings (982830)

      It says right there in TFA that the doctors believed that the scar looks and is healing better than the conventionally sealed wounds.

      Infact theres a discussion about this not very far up the page from this comment.

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        The photo evidence they show isn't convincing on that front. The wound on the top is still healing and tender but the wound on the bottom is mostly healed but with that ugly crater.

        You'll have to forgive me for not reading through every single comment...

  • So will we have to be underwater for the surgery?
  • by tzot (834456) <antislsh@medbar.gr> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:00AM (#25907435) Homepage
    Breasts, I mean. This is going to be heavily used to close incisions of breast augmentation surgery. We shall lose a weapon in our arsenal of 'true-fake' wars.
    We are doomed.
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      Now, now. However tiny scars may get, fakes are still fairly easy to spot. The bigger they are, the easier it is to spot them.
      Talk about Captian Obvious.

    • by Extremus (1043274)
      Knowing if breasts are natural or not is not a big problem anymore. Nowadays, with all this advanced technology in surgery, it is becoming difficult to know if the WHOLE woman is fake or not.
    • by Chrisje (471362)

      Come on now! You can easily feel whether they are man-made or not, and if that fails you can still ascertain it by looking at the degree to which they wiggle (or not) during a shag.

      Besides... who cares, really? If it pleases you it pleases you.

    • by Yaotzin (827566)
      Who cares? Bigger breasts == Win!
    • Breasts, I mean. This is going to be heavily used to close incisions of breast augmentation surgery. We shall lose a weapon in our arsenal of 'true-fake' wars.

      It's already been lost. I know someone personally who has a boob job, she got them inserted through her navel. And it didn't cost all that much more than the kind where they slice the boob instead. Its probably only good for 10 years though and she will have to get cut on the boob in order to have them removed/replaced.

  • TFA states that several people underwent clinical trials... for a FLESH-WELDING LASER.

    Anyone who hears those words and still goes in for experimental surgery is probably the bravest person on the planet. I salute you!

  • [Stun] [Cure] [Kill] [Charge]
    [Laserpointer] [Flashlight] [Blue Light] [Disco] - Never mix up with blue light - it might be embarassing!
    [Self Destruct][Help][Big Surprise][Not-So-Big Surprise]
    [Undo] ;)

  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @08:19AM (#25907897)

    they had to determine the optimal temperature at which flesh melts but can still heal (about 65 degrees Celsius)

    Firstly, 65C, isn't that the just above the heat of a warm bath, and doesn't a sauna reach up to 110C ? Second, since when does a skin melt?

    Who can give some more indepth information about this?

    • by maxume (22995)

      O.k., since a sauna reaches up to 110C, you should be able to stick your hand in a pot of boiling water with no ill effects.

      The mechanism of the heat transfer is just as important as the temperature.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you take 110 Celsius saunas I salute your gonads. However sterilized they might be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zironic (1112127)

      Have you ever burnt yourself on the stove or something? Then you'd know that skin melts.

      65C is way, way, waaaaay above the temperature you'd want in a warm bath and while the air temperature is 110C in a sauna your skin never reaches that temperature, if you stayed in the sauna long enough your skin would melt though(I think you'd die first)

    • by DynaSoar (714234)

      they had to determine the optimal temperature at which flesh melts but can still heal (about 65 degrees Celsius)

      Firstly, 65C, isn't that the just above the heat of a warm bath, and doesn't a sauna reach up to 110C ? Second, since when does a skin melt?

      Who can give some more indepth information about this?

      PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez [nih.gov]

      Nothing I can find that answers directly to the details in TFA, it is after all original research, but I find a few that are probably among the present research's predecessors, which relate the fact that various collogens are unstable and unfold or 'melt' at temperatures less than 65C, including human lung tissue that's unstable at body temperature. I used "skin melting temperature" -- other search terms may prove more fruitful.

    • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:11AM (#25908363)

      Second, since when does a skin melt?

            Skin isn't just the rigid layer of dead cells covered in keratin that you're used to seeing. Lots of interesting things happen under the basement membrane [wikipedia.org] in the "extra-cellular matrix". Cells aren't just glued to each other but rather they produce and surround themselves with different proteins - some for rigidity and others to allow flexibility and elasticity.

            This matrix becomes more fluid at higher temperatures as the proteins unwind and change shape with the heat. The theory is that if you have two pieces of matrix close enough to each other and increase the temperature, some of the proteins from either side of the wound will entangle with the opposite side, and remain entangled when the temperature is lowered again, kind of like velcro on a molecular level. The trick is to provide just enough temperature to get the proteins to entangle with each other, without putting so much temperature that they end up destroyed.

            Anyway surgeons have known about cauterization for a long time. It helps fix all those little mistakes (oops who put that artery there...). There's nothing more fun than watching a bleeder turn into a brown and black bubbling mess of protein goo - but goo that no longer bleeds.

            It would be interesting to know how this "new" technique holds up under different conditions - sepsis, metabolic disorders like diabetes, etc. And of course how much trouble is the patient in if ever there's a dehiscence [wikipedia.org]? At least with sutures, the other sutures are there to keep the wound reasonably closed...

      • There's nothing more fun than watching a bleeder turn into a brown and black bubbling mess of protein goo - but goo that no longer bleeds.

        You must be one of those surgeons. The ones that, as a surgical case is winding up, they spend inordinate amounts of time frying each and every tiny little "bleeder" that they find. Never mind that, if left alone, the whole mess of them won't account for a few band-aids full of blood. Never mind that the anesthesiologist has just about got the patient extubated. You'

        • by Dunbal (464142)

          I'm pretty sure I've operated with you before....

          Ah, a voice from the "other" side of the "blood-brain barrier"!

          Remember that one way or the other, ALL patients eventually stop bleeding...

          You anesthesiologists always want to rush things. No wonder it's always your fault.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Are you quite sure you're not getting Celsius and Fahrenheit mixed up?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by geezer nerd (1041858)
      65C is 149F, which is too warm for a bath, I think. 110C is 230F, which is cooking temperature. As is pointed out in other postings, sauna exposure is not the same as water immersion, nor direct radiant exposure, but still very hot. I will keep my meltable skin away from both temps.
    • Firstly, 65C, isn't that the just above the heat of a warm bath

      A Jacuzzi runs at 40C.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Your Honour and Jury members,
    I wasn't trying to cut the man in half with my laser, but only to sew him back together. I submit this slashdot article as evidence exhibit A.

  • Your Honour and Jury members, I wasn't trying to cut the man in half with my laser, but only to sew him back together. I submit this slashdot article as evidence exhibit A.
  • Great way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:52AM (#25908271)

    To instantly send the cost of that $7500 surgery to $15,000. After all, SOMEONE has to finance, maintain and insure that $300,000 laser machine because a $2 package of 3-0 nylon monofilament just won't do nowadays. Hey do we still have the machine that goes "bing" [youtube.com]?

  • by synthespian (563437) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:46PM (#25912875)

    Gladly, they mentioned the inventor Abraham Katzir (a physicist at Tel Aviv University).

    All too often, it''s the surgeon who gets all the credit when, in fact, all this wonderful medical technology is created by engineers and whole team - a lot more people than the guys who like to pose as heroes.

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