Various developments have occurred in the medical fraternity and one of them is the inclusion of laser treatment. Laser treatment is the use of laser beam in vaporizing or breaking molecular bonds of tissues. In the field of surgery, the laser technology has been used through soft tissue laser surgery. Additionally, laser treatment has played a major role in eye, skin, and cancer treatment. This technology has ensured that best treatment is achieved with laser energy. Thus, improving the healthcare technology and laying a foundation for improvement on laser treatment capabilities.
Medicine is an important aspect inhuman being. The need of better medical care as resulted in the development of technologies to improve further medical care. One of the strategies was the introduction of laser beam in the early 1960s. Hence, since the early 1960s there has been development in the use of laser beam in the medical field. Thus, the aim of this paper is to discuss the influence of laser in healthcare elaborating its implication in healthcare application, uses in healthcare and future developments of the laser to the medical fraternity.
Definition Laser Medicine
Laser medicine is the use of a laser in administrating medical requirements especially those that require incisions. Thus, a laser is a powerful beam of light that is used to produce intense heat when the beam is focused at a close range. The beam of light is usually non-divergent monochromatic electromagnetic radiation that produces concentrated energies that are used to cut tissues or remove the tissues. Various substances that are used by the laser to achieve its goal in medicine include helium-neon, argon, neodymium and krypton. The laser beam operates in different ways to achieve medical requirements. One of the methods is the soft tissue laser surgery that utilizes the laser beam in vaporizing the soft tissue that has a high content of water. Laser resurfacing is the use of the laser beam in dissolving the molecular bonds of materials. Laser medicine is used in various areas such as the treatment of the eye, skin and hair (FDA, 2008).
Healthcare Application: Soft Tissue Laser Surgery
The use of laser in the field of medicine has brought various benefits and increased the standards of medical surgery. Thus, for example in the use of soft tissue laser surgery the interaction between the soft tissues and the laser light provides an approach to accomplish surgical requirements. In such a surgery, a focused laser beam is directed on tissues, which enables the laser to make very small incisions. Nevertheless, after the laser beam is defocused, the strength of the beam on the tissue diminishes. Diminish of the beam is used for cauterization of lymphatic and small blood cells, which decreases or prevents post-operative swellings. Moreover, the use of laser beam in surgical procedures is important in that it has a natural sterilization effect due to its ability to vaporize viruses, bacteria and fungi thus leading to decrease of local infections. The most common type of lasers that are used for soft tissue laser surgical is the Carbon dioxide because its wavelength is absorbs water and has a better precision. Therefore, the use of soft tissue laser surgery is concentrated on general surgery, dentistry, neurosurgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Areas of Use
Laser medicine has played a major role in improving the health standards of human. Laser treatment is mostly used in dentistry, cosmetic-skin care, hair removal and eye surgery. Laser treatment has improved the treatment of teeth or dentistry. The laser beam usually acts have a knife or drill due to microscopic explosions when the beam is applied to the teeth, gums or cavities. Moreover, the use of laser treatment has been approved by FDA to treat tooth decay, fix dental problems and used to whiten the teeth (FDA, 2008).
Hair analysis and removal has utilized the benefits of laser beam. Hair analysis is important in medicine since it allows studying the trace elements that are not easily found in the body. This is because the structure of the hair usually remains unchanged for some time thus the trace elements remain fixed for some years. Hence, the use of hair analysis allows detection of quantitative elements such as lead and methyl mercury, drugs (of abuse) and pharmacological agents. Nevertheless, laser is also used to removal hair, a method that is known as photoepilation or phototricholysis. Thus, the use of selective photothermolysis (SPTL) is a principle behind hair removal. Lasers are used to heat dark targets in the hair, which is usually the melanin and the region where the hair begins to grow – the follicle while keeping the rest of the skin intact. It utilizes the assumption that light is absorbed by dark objects (melanin) resulting in the removal of the hair (Goldberg, 2007).
The use of Laser beam has played an important role is eye surgery (Joussen et al, 2007). The use of laser eye surgery is usually a safe and effective method that is used to correct visual problems through the removal of the constant need for the eyeglasses. In most instances, laser eye surgery utilizes two methods: LASIK Laser Eye Surgery and PRK Eye Surgery. The main difference between the two methods is the way that the stroma (stroma is the middle layer of the cornea) is exposed before the introduction of the laser. Thus, in LASIK, a flap that is located in the stromal layer is cut and then folded back. In the PRK, the epithelium, which is the top layer that is found in the cornea, is scraped so that the stromal layer that lies underneath is exposed. Nevertheless, other areas that laser medicine plays a major role is in the cosmetics and urine stone analysis (FDA, 2008).
Laser therapy is also called phototherapy and Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), which involves the application of low power laser light to lesions and injuries to reduce pain and stimulate healing. Generally, the laser therapy ensures that the repair of tissue is fast resulting in tissues that have quality and strength. Moreover, it ensures that it relieves pain and resolve inflammation. The use of laser therapy as shown that it offers superior pain relieving and healing effects when compared to other electrotherapeutic modalities such as acute injuries, chronic problems and ultrasound. Thus, the use of laser therapy treats tendon, ligament, bone, drug free modality and dermal tissues.
Laser therapy as played a major role in alleviating pain diseases such has prostrate cancer or hair loss. Laser therapy uses the energy that is obtained form the laser in vaporizing excess prostrate tissue. In the case of hair loss, laser therapy equipments are used to restore hair loss or thinning hair (Goldberg, 2007). The energy that is emitted from the lasers helps in repairing damaged cells through the increase of blood flow and in stimulating; the metabolism of the cells Thus, the increase of hair will be attributed to the improvement of blood supply to the hair follicles. However, the result of the laser therapy will depend on medical condition of hair loss, years of hair loss and genetics (FDA, 2008).
Laser acupuncture is the application of therapeutic laser to acu-points that are located on the ear, hand or body. Laser acupuncture is a non-invasive, simple, effective approach that is used as a pain management tool. Laser acupuncture increases the thresholds pressure of algometer, decreased pain, prolongs relief effects to patients suffering from pseudo-radicular and radicular pain. Nevertheless, auricular therapy (auriculotherapy) based medical practice on the idea that the ear is a form of a micro-system thus the entire body can be treated through the simulation of the ear alone. However, the treatment with laser puncture will vary according to the length of treatment, the body part been treated and the power output.
Impact of Laser Medicine in Healthcare IT
Technology is an important component in the advancement of medical treatment. The use of traditional surgery has been replaced by modern technologies such as lasers. Thus, the use of light based technologies and laser equipment has enabled in the furthering various branches of medical sciences. Complex procedures can now be completed with the help of laser, which is more precise compared to previous technologies. Thus, for example, the use of laparoscopic lasers and guided by computer systems have reduced the need for many open surgeries. Hence, smaller and more versatile equipments have been developed to enable the treatment of previously inaccessible areas utilizing a minimal invasive fashion (FDA, 2008). The use of laser technology in the health care as ensured that the healing time is reduced, minimal or no bleeding, painless procedures, no cross infection and reduced cost.
Future Implications Laser Medicine
Currently, there are various research and developments in the field of medical laser application especially in the field of diagnostics and monitoring as well as in the development of new methods in therapeutic methods (University of Hannover, 2009). However, the main area of research is the use of ultrashort (fs) laser pulses. It has been enumerated that the advantage of the use of ultrashort laser pulses is its ability of extreme short interaction time; these reduces the chances of side effects of irradiation of the laser on the tissue. Moreover, the use of the broad spectra associated with the fs laser pulses enables the usage of the same laser pulses for diagnostic applications like OCT – Optical Coherence Tomography. Thus, some researches that are taking place include retina surgery that is used to correct aberrations in eyes, hence will offer a new non-invasive treatment for the treatment of tractive retinal detachment (University of Hannover, 2009). Other benefits of fs pulse are the ability of obtaining the subsurface images of tissue through the use of interferometric detection, fs-LASIK refractive surgery and the treatment of presbyopia.
Nevertheless, continuously research is done in the fields of therapy e.g. anti-smoking strategies and weight loss. The developments on these fields and the various researches that are carried out will influence positively to the development of medicine and treatment capabilities. However, it is important to set guidelines and rules that limits the negative or malpractices that is associated with medical ethics. Moreover, the researchers should be provided with appropriate laws that guides the way that the research are commissioned and completed.
Laser medicine has played a crucial role in development of treatment means. Laser utilizes a beam of energy to vaporize or dissolving of molecular bonds of tissues. Thus, the use of laser in treatment has ensured that various branches of medicine can be explored with minimal constraints. The use of laser treatment has been applied in the surgical procedures, cosmetic surgery and remote surgery. Nevertheless, it has been used and still developing in the treatment of the eyes, teeth, hair loss, removal, and urine stone analysis. Moreover, laser technology has been used in the fields of therapy such in treating chronic pains and acupuncture. In treating chronic pains, the use of laser technology as relieved, reduced and cured inflammations. Laser technology has also been used in the field of acupuncture by directing the beam of laser to acupuncture points without any pain. Nevertheless, there is great research towards advancing the capabilities of laser technology ensuring that the means of treatment has been exhaustively addressed.
Alexiades-Armenakas, M. (2006). Laser Hair Removal. Journal Drugs Dermatol, 5(7): 678-679.
Darwood, R. & Gough, M. (2009). Endovenous Laser Treatment for Uncomplicated Varicose Veins. Phlebology, 24: 50-61.
FDA, (2008). Laser Facts. Retrieved May 25, 2009, from http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/consumer/laserfacts.html
Goldberg, D. (2007). Laser and Light Based Hair Removal: An Update. Expert Rev Med Devices, 4(2): 253-260.
Joussen, A., Gardner, T., Kirchhof, B. & Ryan, S. (2007). Retinal Vascular Disease. New York: Springer, 2007.
Singh, J. & Thakur, S. (2007). Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy. New York: Elsevier Publishers.
Timby, B. (2008). Fundamental Nursing Skills and Concepts. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
University of Hannover. (2009). Medical Laser Applications. Retrieved May 25, 2009, from http://www.lasermedizin.uni-hannover.de/index.php?id=20&L=1