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 SMITHFIELD. R.I., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Leslie Sharpe, M.D., director of the Fairview EndoSurgery Center in Minneapolis and clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, describes himself as different from most physicians. Not many, he says, were also contemplating a career in engineering.
 Perhaps it is his mechanical acumen which explains Dr. Sharpe's immediate comfort and skill with the world's first ultrasonically activated surgical cutting and coagulating instrument. Using the imperceptible action of a blade moving back and forth some 55,000 times a second, the Harmonic Scalpel(R) is gaining increasing popularity among laparoscopic surgeons nationwide for its new "cool blade" technology.
 Developed in response to the need in laparoscopic surgery for a safer energy source, the new instrument is distinguished from laser and electrosurgery tools which make use of thermal energy to burn through tissue and, as a result, produce smoke, char and damage surrounding the incision. The mechanical action of the Harmonic Scalpel produces heat in the tissue's protein and the formation of a sticky substance (coagulum) which seals blood vessels almost the instant they are cut. The result is clean and precise cutting and coagulating capability without the safety hazards, visual barriers and control problems associated with thermal source devices.
 For surgeons like Sharpe, such precision holds certain advantages in the huge realm of laparoscopic surgery and the small sphere of his operating field. Unlike traditional "open" surgery which requires major incisions for the physician to view and operate on internal organs, laparoscopy is done through small access ports which are inserted into the abdominal wall. These dime-sized incisions may easily be covered by Band-Aids after the surgery is complete. The internal organs are viewed with a telescope which is attached to a miniature video camera. Images are projected onto video monitors which give the surgeon and assistants a clear view of the internal organs. Long, slender instruments are then inserted through the access ports to perform a variety of major surgical procedures.
 In gynecology, the Harmonic Scalpel contributes significantly to tissue dissection required for laparoscopic hysterectomy, removal of uterine fibroid tumors or ovarian cysts, biopsy of pelvic lymph nodes and suspension of the urethra for treatment of urinary incontinence. The Harmonic Scalpel has also proven to be useful in bowel surgery and operations upon the urinary bladder. Suturing and stapling techniques are available to allow the surgeon to perform a variety of reparative procedures, and new methods are available to cut bulky specimens into small pieces so that they may be removed from the body without the need for large surgical incisions.
 The laparoscopic technique benefits patients in a big way. Major surgery becomes an outpatient procedure, and months of recuperation become days of moderately restricted activity. Patients return to work sooner, and the costs of their illnesses are lower.
 For example, hysterectomy once meant an average four to five day hospitalization and a six-week period of disability for the patient. Now thanks to laparoscopic surgery, patients leave the hospital within 24 hours and resume normal activity in about two weeks.
 As a specialist in major operative laparoscopy, Sharpe is one of a growing number of physicians nationwide to perform a total hysterectomy making use of laparoscopic techniques and the Harmonic Scalpel. The effective cutting and coagulating qualities of the new instrument are a strong complement to Sharpe's laparoscopic surgical and suturing skill.
 According to Sharpe, "The surgeon has improved control with the Harmonic Scalpel because only minimal force needs to be applied with it to cut tissue. The coagulation effect of the Harmonic Scalpel minimizes bleeding and improves surgical visualization. There is minimal generation of smoke or vapor during cutting, again improving the surgeon's view of the operative field. With an enhanced view of a clean surgical field, the surgeon is able to complete operations with less tissue manipulation and, therefore, less post-operative pain for the patient.
 "From the first moment of my exposure to the Harmonic Scalpel, I was both intrigued by its mode of action and confident that it would contribute significantly to my surgical practice. Happily the instrument has performed just as I expected it would."
 This should come as no small compliment from this would-be engineer who has designed his own set of surgical instruments. He is now traveling around the country teaching other physicians to perform hysterectomy and other major surgeries by laparoscopy technique. "My colleagues appear to be intrigued by the Harmonic Scalpel," summarizes Sharpe. He said he expects the new instrument will have wide potential beyond its current general surgical and gynecological applications, including urology, orthopaedics and possibly dermatological procedures.
 Developed and manufactured by the Smithfield, R.I. firm, UltraCision, Inc., the Harmonic Scalpel was first approved by the FDA for traditional surgery in November 1990 and for laparoscopic surgery in June 1991. It was tested in leading medical centers throughout the country and then launched into the worldwide marketplace in early 1992. Since that time, it has become the instrument of choice for a growing number of general and gynecological laparoscopic surgeons around the globe.
 -0- 4/23/93
 /CONTACT: Leslie Sharpe, M.D., Fairview EndoSurgery Center, 612-672-2930; May Kernan, Potter-Hazelhurst Public Relations for UltraCision, 401-885-4300/

CO: UltraCision ST: Minnesota, Rhode Island IN: MTC SU: PDT

CH -- NE002 -- 9956 04/23/93 10:26 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 23, 1993

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