Magnetic surgical process may yield scar-free healing

April 4, 2007

Surgery sans scars is the potential promise of a new technique under development by a collaboration of physicians at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and engineers at University of Texas Arlington.

Surgery sans scars is the potential promise of a new technique under development by a collaboration of physicians at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and engineers at University of Texas Arlington.

The method, a surgical concept called the Magnetic Anchoring and Guidance System, offers the capability for magnetically manipulating laparoscopic surgical tools to be placed in the abdominal area via the navel or throat.

Evolution of the magnetic system is attributed to a television show in which teenagers used magnets to keep studs on their lips without piercing the lips, said Jeffrey Cadeddu, MD, of UT Southwestern. His team of urologists and surgeons collaborated with engineers from UT Arlington’s Automation and Robotics Research Institute and the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center to develop the model.

Magnets stacked outside the abdomen pull magnets attached to laparoscopic instruments inside the abdomen. The outside magnets can be maneuvered to position an internal camera or to move surgical instruments. Once in position, the instruments would be locked in place and repositioned or manipulated as needed.

"The current state of the art for laparoscopic surgery requires four or five holes. The question behind this is, can we do the surgery through only one hole and can we hide the hole in a cosmetically advantageous or less painful location?" Dr. Cadeddu said.

The system needs to be tested in humans to determine whether fewer entry points would translate to more rapid recovery.

Preliminary research on the system was published in Annals of Surgery (2007; 245:379-384).