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Laser surgery

PTI | ByAsian News International, Washington
May 25, 2004 04:07 PM IST

Pulsed-dye laser surgery is more effective than general surgery for treatment of voice disorders, say experts.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center surgeons have discovered pulsed-dye laser surgery to be more effective than general surgery for treatment of voice disorders.

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"This is the way a lot of surgery will be done in the future in other areas you can reach with an instrument from the outside. We are already using it in the trachea and upper lung. We are looking at other applications as well," said Jamie Koufman, director of the Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at Wake Forest University.

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Pulsed-dye lasers (PDLs) were originally developed to treat skin conditions, such as birthmarks, that involve blood vessels. It refers to the material used to generate the laser beam.

Koufman said that the PDL gets rid of the bad while preserving the good, particularly in the voice box.

After the patient's throat is sprayed with numbing medication, a tube the width of a drinking straw goes down the nose and into the throat or voice box. Surgeons place the laser fiber through this flexible scope. The laser fires at and destroys abnormal tissue while ignoring healthy tissue.

"You numb the larynx, the patient coughs and spreads the medicine down the throat, and minutes later, it's over," said Koufman.

Gregory N. Postma, a laryngologist at Wake Forest, said that when he gives his patients a choice of using the PDL method versus standard surgery, nearly everyone chooses the in-office PDL.

Postma said that PDL is used most of the times to get rid of recurrent papillomas (laryngeal warts) and bumps on the vocal folds. "The possibilities are endless - this is the future of a lot of larynx and windpipe surgery," he added.

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