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ArthroCare Introduces New ENTec Device to Treat Upper Airway Disorders; ReFlex Wand Used for Novel Coblation-Channeling Therapy.

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BW HealthWire)--July 6, 1999--

ENTec(TM), a division of ArthroCare Corp. (Nasdaq:ARTC), today announced the introduction of the ReFlex(TM) surgical wand, designed for use in a new kind of procedure called Coblation-channeling(TM) to treat obstructions in the nose and mouth that can cause breathing abnormalities.

The wand is the newest addition to ENTec's patented Coblator(TM) Plasma Surgery System for performing many types of ear, nose and throat (ENT) procedures.

Coblation-channeling is an alternative to more invasive forms of surgery typically used for treating nasal obstruction and other types of obstructive disorders such as snoring and a related condition called obstructive sleep apnea. The advantages of Coblation-channeling over conventional procedures include less pain, faster healing and reduced post-operative care. Furthermore, because these procedures can be performed under local instead of general anesthesia, the patient remains awake and the operation can be performed in the doctor's office rather than in the operating room.

Coblation-channeling is performed by ablating a shallow channel in the soft tissue in the nose, mouth or back of the throat, where excess tissue creates airway obstructions that cause difficulty breathing. A unique feature of the ReFlex wand is its dual mechanism of action that removes as well as shrinks tissue. The system removes (ablates) tissue, helping to reduce enlarged structures and coagulates tissue to prevent bleeding.

The Reflex wand performs these two functions in one quick step, in as little as 10 to 15 seconds per treatment site. Other devices used for obstructive surgery do not remove tissue and require as long as three minutes to complete a single treatment site. The entire Coblation-channeling procedure takes about 20 minutes in the doctor's office and patients can return to work the same day.

"Because of its novel mode of action, Coblation-channeling produces a consistent and highly reproducible result, and does so in a fraction of the time required with other currently available devices," said Kelvin Lee, MD, chief of otolaryngology at San Francisco General Hospital and himself one of the first patients to undergo channeling surgery with the Reflex wand.

"I can say from my own experience, both as a physician and a patient, that treating an area in 10 seconds instead of several minutes definitely helps minimize intraoperative discomfort given that the patient is awake while the procedure is performed."

The Reflex wand joins ENTec's two existing ENT surgical wands: the Plasma Scalpel(TM), designed for cutting and dissecting tissue, and the Hummingbird(TM) wand, for site-specific tissue removal in the nose and mouth.

Obstructive disease of the upper airway is a very common problem. Chronic snoring is estimated to affect approximately 40 million Americans. It is caused by relaxed muscles and enlarged structures, creating a partial airway obstruction and loud noise. Sleep apnea, a related condition in which people stop breathing during sleep, affects as many as 20 million people in the U.S. Nasal obstruction is a common symptom of chronic rhinitis, or runny nose, which affects approximately 50 million Americans.

In this condition, a major cause of obstruction is the inferior turbinates, the bony structure right inside each nostril, which heat and humidify air passing through the nose. When these become chronically enlarged, breathing through the nose becomes difficult or impossible. Minimally invasive approaches for treating these conditions are rapidly gaining acceptance from surgeons and significant interest from patients.

Coblation(TM) technology is based on a patented method of tissue removal that is designed to improve upon standard surgical methods. Coblation uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to remove tissue through a significantly cooler process than is possible with traditional electrosurgery. This cooler approach helps improve precision of tissue removal while minimizing injury to surrounding healthy tissue. As a result, Coblation-assisted surgery has the potential to achieve excellent operative results while reducing pain and speeding recovery compared with existing surgical techniques.

ENTec, a division of ArthroCare Corporation, is developing Coblation technology for use in ear, nose and throat surgery where removing and shrinking tissue is required. Such procedures may include turbinate surgery for nasal obstructions, Coblation-channeling procedures for airway obstructions, and tonsillectomies. Coblation technology is marketed separately by ArthroCare for use in arthroscopic joint surgery and cosmetic surgery. The company plans to explore possible use of Coblation technology for use in other fields of surgery which may include various cardiology applications, urology, gynecology, and oral and general surgery.

This press release contains forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to quarterly fluctuations in results, the management of growth, the competitive environment, the risk that Coblation technology will not be effective in obstructive sleep apnea and snoring, and other risks as detailed from time to time in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including ArthroCare's Form 10-K for the year ended January 2, 1999, and the 10-Q for the quarter ended April 2, 1999.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 6, 1999
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