Photo: kristiewells (flickr)
When you were a kid, did you ever take a magnifying glass outside on a sunny day and burn dry grass or paper?
Well, scientists are working on ways to use ultrasound to do the same thing inside the body.
Say for example someone’s been in a bad car accident, and is brought into the emergency room with a punctured lung. Normally, doctors would have to open the patient up and move the ribs aside in order to patch up the lung. However, scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle are experimenting with high intensity ultrasound waves that could be used to mend internal wounds, without doing surgery.
It’s not much different from concentrating light through a magnifying glass. They focus the ultrasound waves on an internal wound, creating enough heat to cauterize the puncture. It’s just enough heat to seal the wound, but not so much that it burns the surrounding tissue.
The researchers haven’t done tests on people yet, but the technique works quite well on animals. In a few years, ultrasound technology could revolutionize how doctors treat punctured lungs and other damaged organs.