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Doctors discover no-knife surgery using electricity

CDLP | Updated: 2020-01-11 10:00



Doctors have discovered a no-knife way to reshape cartilage through molecular surgery-by using electricity.

Scientists and doctors have made an astonishing discovery that could soon replace certain invasive and painful types of surgery, particularly of the cosmetic variety. The secret? Doctors can now reshape cartilage by using simple electricity. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Today, we might laugh when we watch the 1931 film Frankenstein and see the creature brought to life via a series of lightning strikes rendered via electric shocks-an act that was inspired by original Frankenstein novelist Mary Shelley's sighting of a dead frog being reanimated via the administration of a small electric shock.

But those creatures were conjured from the reality of death and non-existence. Now, however, scientists and doctors have made an astonishing discovery that could soon replace certain invasive and painful types of surgery, particularly of the cosmetic variety.

The secret? Doctors can now reshape cartilage by using simple electricity. Granted, the subject on which experiments have been tested are thus far only a rabbit's ears, but the knowledge used to transform the leporine is just as applicable to humans.

The breakthrough, announced last year by the American Chemical Society, describes how cartilage, which shapes our noses and other parts of our anatomy, is made more pliant and malleable after undergoing exposure to an electrical current.

By coupling this current with 3D-printed molds, doctors have discovered how to soften and reshape cartilage without making a single incision-a development that not only makes the process less painful, but significantly shortens the recovery time for patients undergoing more typical interventions.

The Society's press release describes how lab technicians arrived at the Eureka moment entirely by accident. Ordinarily using laser beams to heat cartilage, which is both expensive and often kills the tissue itself, a scientist, for novelty value, tried the same with an electrical current. The process works not by heating the cartilage per se, but by destabilizing the ions that move around within it, thus softening the tissue's texture and allowing it to be reshaped and molded like clay.

The implications of this happy accident are far-reaching and exciting. The Society describes how, aside from cosmetic surgery to reshape noses and other facial features, doctors could reshape cartilage to alleviate the pain of those suffering from stiff joints and deviated septums. And why stop at that? Doctors suggest using the same modus operandi to repair corneas and even fix eyesight.

Molecular cuisine may now seem a product of the end of last century, but molecular surgery? Welcome to a brand new world of surgical enhancement without pain or invasion.

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