A device called a 'plasma blade' promises to help speed up surgery and recovery for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Surgeons at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater are using the souped-up scalpel and tell us patients are benefiting from improved techniques in the operating room.
"We're using a heated instrument to make it easy. It's got a light touch, like butter," offered Dr. Peter Blumencranz, medical director of Morton Plant Hospital's Comprehensive Breast Program.
Dr. Blumencranz brought FOX 13 cameras inside the operating room for a breast removal surgery. He showed us how the plasma blade delivers a one-two punch.
The powered scalpel makes incisions effortless. The device also emits radio frequencies, calibrated to stop bleeding, without damaging surrounding skin.
"It's very neat, I think it's saved us time in the operating room because we are not passing instruments back and forth," explained Blumencranz. "I can have one instrument, cauterize with it, and do a lot of the work without having to change instruments."
Blumencranz uses the plasma blade to isolate lymph nodes, then they send them to the lab to make sure the cancer hasn't spread.
"It gives the pathologist a chance to work on the nodes, so that way we can get on with the mastectomy, otherwise we'd be waiting and wasting time. It's all about efficiency."
Patients like A.J. Farrell believe the device helped her recover quicker than expected from breast removal surgery a week ago.
"I feel wonderful. My surgery was a week ago yesterday," she said. "I just feel so great, it's behind me and I've got all kinds of energy, no pain, no discomfort."
The plasma blade isn't just for breast cancer operations. Doctors are also using it for plastic, reconstructive, and orthopedic surgery.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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