The term laser is bandied around a great deal in healthcare, these days. Standing for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, a laser is a tool which has many industrial applications. In industry, they tend to be used for highly precise jobs which need a great deal of care. For the same reason, lasers have been adopted by hospitals and health care clinics. They can be used to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of a range of conditions. How are lasers helping medical practitioners every day?
Lasers are ideal for treating eyes because they can be aimed with a great deal of precision. In the past, if a condition like cataracts developed in a patient, then rather invasive surgery would usually be required to deal with the problem. Cataracts would often grow quite large and disrupt vision greatly before they were treated. Nowadays, lasers can burn away cataracts in the eye in just the right place and with just the right amount of intensity to leave the rest of the retina intact. In some cases, lasers are also used to correct the shape of the cornea, thereby treating common ailments such as far-sightedness and astigmatisms.
A number of conditions affect human bones. Osteoarthritis is a common one. More rare, although equally as problematic, is brittle bone disease. Medical practitioners have developed diagnostic tools for both of these bone-related conditions that rely on lasers. A laser that is lower in power than usual is used in close proximity to the skin. It operates in a similar way to an x-ray that allows close inspection of bones and their inner structure. Thanks to the imagery that results, doctors can diagnose these conditions successfully and recommend appropriate treatments.
Certain types of skin cancers are routinely treated with lasers these days. Any mole or mark on the skin which is deemed to be cancerous can be 'burnt' off the skin by using a high-powered laser that just removes the affected area, protecting the skin beneath. This is similar to the etching processes that are used with industrial lasers. In addition, procedures like laser prostate surgery are being found to be increasingly successful today. Enlarged prostate glands can be diminished in size with a laser which causes much less discomfort to the patient than other methods that might be used. Similarly, lasers can be used to treat cancers in other hard-to-reach places, such as the in the colon or the trachea.