New devices utilizing laser energy and radiofrequency waves help reverse hearing loss from chronic ear infections and target cancer cells for better cure rates.
A new laser-equipped scalpel system from OmniGuide allows surgeons to more accurately aim energy beams deep inside the body, including the middle ear.
The innovative system directs infrared energy from a high-intensity carbon dioxide (CO2) laser through a flexible fiber tube lined with reflective material. Rigid lasers used for the past 30 years operate in a straight line only.
“The CO2 laser has been utilized in middle ear surgery for the past two decades,” explains ear specialist Dr. Bob Owens of Dallas, Texas, “But the OmniGuide BeamPath CO2 laser system allows an otologist (specialty ear surgeon) to hold the laser in a handpiece. This creates the greatest degree of surgical precision that can be obtained while operating in a microsurgical environment such as the middle ear space.”
Kayla, age 14, developed hearing loss from multiple ear infections that gradually immobilized tiny bones inside her ear. After undergoing the new laser procedure, she no longer needs a hearing aid.
“Conductive hearing loss occurs when patients have scarring or bone growth that ‘tethers’ the eardrum or ossicles (small bones of hearing),” Dr. Owens told the Post. “The OmniGuide laser divides the scar tissue and obliterates abnormal bone growth to free up the structures and allow better conduction of sound to the inner ear.”
Patients with cholesteatoma (abnormal tissue in the ear), a perforated eardrum, or otosclerosis (abnormal bone in the ear) may also benefit from the new laser surgery, according to Dr. Owens, who is one of the first doctors in the U.S. to use OmniGuide for hearing loss in children.
The FDA-cleared system is also utilized for brain, throat, and GI tract problems. Click here for video clips of laser therapy in brain cancer.
Calypso Medical’s “GPS for the body” uses tiny electromagnetic transponders to pinpoint the exact location of prostate cancer cells during radiation therapy.
Experts know that organs in the body may shift during radiation treatments for prostate cancer. As a result, tumors may not receive the optimal treatment dose and nearby urinary and rectal tissue may be damaged by unintended radiation exposure.
How the Calypso Works
1. Doctors implant 3 transponders about the size of rice grains into the diseased prostate.
2. Radiofrequency waves from the transponders communicate with external components of the Calypso System.
3. A display screen continuously monitors the position of the prostate gland during treatment and alerts the therapist when the prostate drifts out of position.
Findings from a February 2010 study show that Calypso’s real-time tracking technology enabled physicians to direct increased doses of radiation to the tumor while sparing surrounding tissue—a treatment strategy referred to as “margin reduction.”
“This is the first comparative study to show that margin reduction in prostate cancer radiation therapy has clinically significant and measurable benefits in decreasing acute toxicity and short-term side effects,” said Dr. Constantine Mantz, radiation oncologist at 21st Century Oncology in Cape Coral, Florida and lead investigator of the study. “By reducing acute toxicity, we hope these patients may also experience a significant reduction of long-term side effects.”