Lasers help patients breathe easier and reduce spinal pain

by Daniel Shope | Submitted Saturday Nov 29, 2008 [09:52 AM]

Russian Laser Technology to Change the ‘Face' of Corrective Surgery

Beginning with an FSTM grant, Emil Sobol and colleagues from the Institute of Lasers & Information Technologies (Moscow) joined Craig Fryar of Torquin Therapeutics (Austin, TX) to develop new equipment for non-invasive laser correction of deviated septa. The project created a feedback control system for the technology, known as laser septochondrocorrection, and included a technical and market assessment of the cartilage laser reshaping technology.

Deformities of the nasal septum affect 20 percent of the general population. Conventional treatment involves a painful surgical procedure with full recovery commonly extending six months. With Emil Sobol and his team's patented technology, lasers are used to carefully and accurately heat cartilage where it can be reshaped. The procedure is painless and does not require a surgical incision.

The FSTM project created a system to control the laser by monitoring the malleability, or stress relaxation, and temperature of cartilage. Laser assisted cartilage reshaping technology was developed by former weapons scientists with extensive laser experience. Now these scientists are designing laser equipment and novel medical procedures that will help people to breathe easier.

This technique has also been applied to other areas of the body, replacing traditionally intensive surgeries. The minimally invasive procedure is offered as an alternative to spinal fusion whereby multiple vertebrate are melded together to increase spinal strength after damage to the interveberal discs has occurred.

The traditional surgery significantly reduces patient mobility post surgery since the range of flexion of the overall spine has been reduced. Rather than screwing in plates, the solution offered by Sobol's team aims to fix the problem. The laser heating reshapes the cartilage into a functional disc that allows the patient to retain mobility. Since the procedure does not require extensive internal manipulation recovery is dramatically shortened.

The project established the laser's commercial potential and resulted in a patent application and the establishment of a spin-off company, Arcuo Medical Inc. The research has produced investor confidence and has generated more than $450,000 in additional funding. The Russian team continues R&D under the NSTM program with support from CRDF and Arcuo Medical (Los Altos, CA).

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Tags:surgery  lasers  minimally+invasive  medical  spinal+fusion 

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