TAU laser technique seals and heals wounds

November 11th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 11 (IANS) Using a carbon dioxide laser to seal wounds is fraught with risks, as laser heat could scald the tissues or the skin.Now a team of Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers have perfected a new device to heat body tissue in a precisely controlled manner.

The work led by Abraham Katzir of TAU’s Applied Physics Group, could change the way surgeons bond cuts on the surface of our skin and inside our bodies during surgery.

With the new device, if the laser begins to overheat and risks burning the tissue, laser power is reduced, and if the temperature is too low to complete a closure, laser power in increased appropriately.

Earlier attempts to use carbon dioxide lasers for bonding of cuts in the operating room or in clinics were not very successful. Causing thermal damage, the lasers either “undercooked” or “overcooked” the patient’s delicate tissues.

Katzir set out to find the right temperature for optimal wound healing, and to perfect a device that could maintain this temperature, said a TAU release.

He is the first to apply the carbon dioxide laser, coupled to optical fibers, for wound closure under a tight temperature control.

His innovation is in the use of unique optical fibres made from silver halide developed at Tel Aviv University. The fibres deliver the laser’s energy to heat the bonded cut and are used for controlling the temperature. They also make it possible to bond tissues inside the body.

“Sutures or stitches are not water tight, and blood or urine can pass through cuts, causing severe infection,” he said. “Also, in many cases, a surgeon needs great skill to perform internal stitching, or in bonding tiny blood vessels, or in mending cuts on the skin so there will be no trace left on the body.”

Katzir and his colleagues have carried out successful clinical trials on people undergoing gall bladder removal surgery.

At the close of the surgery, four cuts were left on the skin of the abdomen, two of which were sutured and two laser-bonded. The results of the trials suggest that the laser-bonded tissues heal faster, with less scarring.

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