Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medical 'lightsabers': Laser scalpels get ultrafast, ultra-accurate, and ultra-compact makeover

Date:
April 23, 2012
Source:
Optical Society of America
Summary:
Researchers have developed a small, flexible endoscopic medical device fitted with a femtosecond laser "scalpel" that can remove diseased or damaged tissue while leaving healthy cells untouched.

An image taken with the probe's two-photon fluorescence microscope shows cells in a 70-micrometer thick piece of vocal cord from a pig. The scale bar is 10 micrometers.
Credit: Ben-Yakar Group, University of Texas at Austin

Whether surgeons slice with a traditional scalpel or cut away with a surgical laser, most medical operations end up removing some healthy tissue, along with the bad. This means that for delicate areas like the brain, throat, and digestive tract, physicians and patients have to balance the benefits of treatment against possible collateral damage.

Related Articles


To help shift this balance in the patient's favor, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has developed a small, flexible endoscopic medical device fitted with a femtosecond laser "scalpel" that can remove diseased or damaged tissue while leaving healthy cells untouched. The researchers will present their work at this year's Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO: 2012) in San Jose, Calif., taking place May 6-11.

The device, which was engineered with off-the-shelf parts, includes a laser capable of generating pulses of light a mere 200 quadrillionths of a second in duration. These bursts are powerful, but are so fleeting that they spare surrounding tissue. The laser is coupled with a mini-microscope that provides the precise control necessary for highly delicate surgery. Using an imaging technique known as "two-photon fluorescence," this specialized microscope relies on infrared light that penetrates up to one millimeter into living tissue, which allows surgeons to target individual cells or even smaller parts such as cell nuclei.

The entire endoscope probe package, which is thinner than a pencil and less than an inch long (9.6 millimeters in circumference and 23 millimeters long), can fit into large endoscopes, such as those used for colonoscopies.

"All the optics we tested can go into a real endoscope," says Adela Ben-Yakar of the University of Texas at Austin, the project's principal investigator. "The probe has proven that it's functional and feasible and can be [manufactured] commercially."

The new system is five times smaller than the team's first prototype and boosts the imaging resolution by 20 percent, says Ben-Yakar. The optics consist of three parts: commercial lenses; a specialized fiber to deliver the ultrashort laser pulses from the laser to the microscope; and a 750-micrometer MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) scanning mirror. To hold the optical components in alignment, the team designed a miniaturized case fabricated using 3-D printing, in which solid objects are created from a digital file by laying down successive layers of material.

Tabletop femtosecond lasers are already in use for eye surgery, but Ben-Yakar sees many more applications inside the body. These include repairing the vocal cords or removing small tumors in the spinal cord or other tissues. Ben-Yakar's group is currently collaborating on two projects: treating scarred vocal folds with a probe tailored for the larynx, and nanosurgery on brain neurons and synapses and cellular structures such as organelles.

"We are developing the next-generation clinical tools for microsurgery," says Ben-Yakar.

The new design has so far been laboratory-tested on pig vocal chords and the tendons of rat tails, and an earlier prototype was laboratory-tested on human breast cancer cells. The system is ready to move into commercialization, says Ben-Yakar. However, the first viable laser scalpel based on the team's device will still need at least five years of clinical testing before it receives FDA approval for human use, Ben-Yakar adds.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and by the University of Texas Board of Regents Texas Ignition Fund.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Optical Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Optical Society of America. "Medical 'lightsabers': Laser scalpels get ultrafast, ultra-accurate, and ultra-compact makeover." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423131854.htm>.
Optical Society of America. (2012, April 23). Medical 'lightsabers': Laser scalpels get ultrafast, ultra-accurate, and ultra-compact makeover. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423131854.htm
Optical Society of America. "Medical 'lightsabers': Laser scalpels get ultrafast, ultra-accurate, and ultra-compact makeover." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423131854.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Qatar Airways takes first delivery of Airbus' new A350 passenger jet. As Joel Flynn reports it's the planemaker's response to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the culmination of eight years of development. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) — A BASE jumper rides a lawn chair, a shotgun, and a giant bunch of helium balloons into the sky in what seems like a country version of the movie 'Up." Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins