Friday, July 2, 2010

Laser in Medicine Essay

Essay on Laser in Medicine

The word "laser" is the combination of the first letters of the statement "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation" (Hecht, p:1). As an explanation of this statement, it can be said that laser is a device that creates and amplifies a narrow intense beam of consistent light. Laser light, has a specific wavelength and is focused in a narrow beam. This type of high-intensity light contains a lot of energy. Laser is an important technology because it has contributed to humanity as a powerful scientific tool for expanding human knowledge and in its many applications that help people directly. After the invention of laser, professors in many areas discovered different usages of laser, so it became a very common technology in many areas such as materials working, measurements and inspection, recording information, communications, remote sensing, etc. (Hecht, p: 11). The most important usage of laser technology is in surgery and medical treatment such as refractive surgery, cancer treatments and tooth surgeries.

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One of the important applications of laser in medicine area is refractive surgery, which improves vision by correcting refraction of light in the eye by means of surgical procedures. Refractive surgery is very widely used in the last years. The main approach of using laser in refractive surgery is to reshape the cornea for optimizing the bending of light in the eye so that it provides a clear image (Applications in the Vision unit - Refractive surgery). As nobody's eye surface is a perfectly smooth hemisphere, тАЬadditional aberration below the surface can cause refractive errors that a corneal topographer, which maps the eye's surface wouldn't display. These unknown aberrations make it difficult for surgeons to plan procedures that yield a precise result" (Murphy, New Advances in Vision Surgery). Laser method is usually preferred because of the lack of pain immediately afterward and partly because good vision is usually achieved by the very next day. Although the most common problems, which are myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatic are cured by lasers now, with the future developments, lasers will be able to cure more and more diseases that appear in eyes.

Lasers are also used in cancer treatments in two ways, which are shrinking or destroying a tumor with heat and by activating a chemical that destroys cancer cells. This is a very important development in medicine. Lasers are used to treat many types of cancer such as cervical, skin, lung, vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancers. In addition to its use to destroy the cancer, laser surgery is also used to help relieve symptoms caused by cancer. For example, lasers may be used to shrink or destroy a tumor that is blocking a patient's windpipe, making it easier to breathe. It is also sometimes used for palliation in colorectal and anal cancer. As Dr. Boggan says,

"Protons can be used in cancer therapy because they tend to, based on the energy, be able to penetrate the body and stop in a certain, well defined region. So that no radiation gets to important structures around that whereas you dump all that radiation into the tumor which makes it a very precise method of treating tumors or irradiating tumors." (Center for Laser Applications in Medicine)

Doctors are trying to find new and better ways to use lasers in cancer surgery. As more cancer surgeons become trained in laser use and the technology improves, lasers may make increasing contributions to cancer treatment. Doctors are currently studying the effects of lasers in treating breast, esophageal, skin, colon, lung, brain, vulva, vaginal, cervical, and head and neck cancers.

Another important application of lasers is their usage in tooth therapies. Lasers are commonly used in pulling out a tooth, screw surgery, gum diseases, mouth surgeries, tooth inflammations and problems with chin joint. The general advantages of using laser in tooth surgeries are less bleeding, faster recovery and less aches, so people usually prefer lasers in tooth surgeries. The use of lasers in daily dental practice keeps on growing and new and exciting developments are presently being studied with the expectation of clinical implementation in the next few years (Featherstone & Hibst, Emerging Applications of Lasers in Dentistry).

There are also some disadvantages of laser treatments, which are less surgeons on the issue, high costs of the equipment, need for the strict safety precautions during the operaton such as using eye protections (Laser in cancer treatment). But despite these disadvantages, laser technology will go on developing and in the future, it will enlighten the microscobic world, which will let us develop much more. In the following years, there will be much more applications of laser that will help people directly in many areas.


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