Surgery without a scalpel

I recently heard about device called the Novac7 which delivers precision controlled xrays directed at a target during surgery. Now that I know such a device actually exists, it encouraged me to contact someone in the medical field about an idea I've had for a while that would allow certain forms of surgery to performed without a scalpel.

The basic idea is that multiple xray devices would deliver low powered beams shooting from different angles. The low power of each beam would not cause tissue damage, however, where the beams overlapped their combined power would be distructive to the target.

The process involves these technologies
  • 3D imaging to precisely locate the target (tumor)
  • mechanisms to maintain exact patient position
  • 6 xray, one per side of a cube (only 3 need to fire at any one time)
  • pecise measurement of pathway tissue density as well as target density
  • variable strengths of xray beams for fringe areas of the target
  • programmed computer control of the xray delivery (first tested on a mockup)

=== 20111228 called Dr. Lawrence E Kline at Scripps Clinic
Turns out that my idea is already a reality. It's called Stereotactic Radiosurgery. After learning what the procedure is called, I looked it up and found the following description. It is neat to see how closely the concept I dreamed up aligns with this actual practice.

=== Stereotactic radiosurgery
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a highly precise form of radiation therapy initially used to treat tumors and other abnormalities of the brain. Now the principles developed for cranial SRS are also being used to treat cancer in other parts of the body in a procedure called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).

Despite its name, SRS is a non-surgical procedure that delivers precisely-targeted radiation at much higher doses than traditional radiation therapy while sparing healthy tissue nearby.

SRS and SBRT rely on several technologies:
  • three-dimensional imaging and localization techniques that determine the exact coordinates of the target within the body
  • systems to immobilize and carefully position the patient
  • highly focused gamma-ray or x-ray beams that converge on a tumor or abnormality
  • image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT),which uses medical imaging to confirm the location of a tumor immediately before, and in some cases during the delivery of radiation to further improve the precision and accuracy of the treatment
Copyright Yale Schwartz, 2011

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