Medicine: Laser Scalpel

Surgery to remove growths on vocal cords is usually difficult for doctor and patient alike. The surgeon must work in a severely constricted area, use unwieldy instruments up to a foot long, and exercise extreme caution for fear of removing or damaging healthy—and irreplaceable—vocal tissue. The patient, who must usually endure considerable post-operative pain, often has to forgo even the satisfaction of complaining; any talking may irritate his throat and delay his recovery. Now doctors at Boston University Medical Center are finding a way around both problems. They have found that a carbon-dioxide laser, which produces a high-intensity beam of invisible...

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