3 Otolaryngological Applications Of Laser Treatment

Posted on: 7 January 2015

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Lasers have revolutionized many invasive surgeries in the field of otolaryngology. Laser surgery results in less postoperative pain due to the way that it seals nerve endings, as well as cleaner surgery because it cauterizes blood vessels. Here are a few types of laser surgery that an ear, nose, and throat specialist can provide.

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a pathological growth of bone in the middle ear. This condition can lead to deafness through conductive hearing loss, where sound reaches the eardrum but is dampened before it reaches the bones of the middle ear. An ENT will perform a laser surgery known as stapedectomy to remove the growth and restore hearing.

During a stapedectomy, the ENT will first make a laser incision  in the ear canal to access the eardrum. When the eardrum is raised,the ENT can use an operating microscope to observe the middle ear. In most cases, there will be a calcium deposit on the stapes bone of the middle ear that prevents it from vibrating to transfer sound.

The laser is then used to incise the tendon and arch of the stapes bone, allowing it to be removed from the incus bone. The laser is then set to low power and used to cut a small opening in the tissue where the stapes bone was previously located. A prosthetic stapes bone is set in place and compressed slightly to make sure that all of the bones of the middle ear are moving properly. Finally, the inner ear is sealed with a tissue graft from behind the ear lobe, and the eardrum is set back in place with a gelatin sponge to heal.

Throat Cancer

Surgery for throat cancer can be difficult because tumors can vary widely in size and location. Laser surgery is used in combination with chemotherapy and other treatments to stop the spread of cancer and remove existing malignant tumors. A minimally invasive procedure known as transoral laser microsurgery is used to remove laryngeal tumors without having to cut into the neck from the outside. This causes minimal damage to surrounding muscle, nerves, and blood vessels.

In transoral laser microsurgery, a laser and operating microscope are guided down an anesthetized patient's throat. The ENT will be able to guide the procedure and determine the specific location of the tumor by looking at a monitor that is connected to the operating microscope. If the tumor is glottic, or located on the vocal cord, a cordectomy will be performed to remove the vocal cord. Supraglottic tumors can be treated by removing the epiglottis, preserving the patient's speaking ability.

Cosmetic Surgery

Lasers are useful for more than treating pathological conditions. There are several laser therapies that can provide cosmetic improvements to the skin and hair. Laser skin resurfacing is one of the most common cosmetic procedures that ENTs perform. In this treatment, a pulsating, low-energy laser is used to remove blemishes like acne scars, wrinkles, unusual pigmentation, scars, and birthmarks. Minor redness, swelling, itching, or stinging may be experienced for a few days after the treatment. The doctor will recommend saline solutions or moisturizers to help you through the healing process.

Laser assisted hair transplants are another common cosmetic procedure. In this treatment, local anesthesia is applied to the desired area, and a low-energy laser is used to prepare the area by stimulating the hair follicles and causing them to expand. Hairs are then taken from an area of permanent growth, such as the back of the head, and stripped of their roots. The hairs are placed into artificial roots and transplanted into the prepared hair follicles.

Lasers have brought otolaryngological surgery into the future. Because laser surgery is safe, effective, and has minimal recovery time, you should go to websites or talk to your ENT about the option of laser surgery for your next procedure.