One of the problems with performing surgical procedures on a human being is the great deal of blood loss that surgery entails. Some surgeries require a massive amount of blood transfusions, as much as twenty pints. A new device promises to reduce this amount of blood lost to just a thimble full in some surgical procedures. It’s called the Habib Sealer, named after its inventor, Dr. Nagy Habib, a Professor at the Imperial College School of Medicine at the Hammersmith Hospital Campus
and head of liver surgery at Hammersmith Hospital.
The Habib Sealer is a hand held device that uses radio waves to “cook” and thus seal off the blood vessels around a liver tumor, thus allowing for the easy excision of the tumor. The Habib Sealer resembles a small box with four needles attached.
There are several advantages to using the Habib Sealer for a liver tumor surgery, besides reducing the loss of blood. The length of the procedure is shortened by as much as thirty minutes. The required hospital stay for a patient can be reduced from fifteen days to about eight days after undergoing the liver tumor procedure. Liver tumors which hither to have been considered inoperable, due to the risk of massive blood loss, can now be removed. The over all cost of a liver tumor procedure is reduced.
One reason that liver cancer is particularly dangerous is that early detection is very difficult. Liver cancer is often not found early because there are seldom any signs or symptoms. It is hard for doctors to feel for lumps on the liver because of where it is located, under the rib cage. Also, many types of liver cancer grow very quickly. For all of these reasons, it is hard to find liver cancer early.
Besides surgical removal of a liver tumor, often chemotherapy and/or radiation is used to attack a liver tumor. The precise mix of treatments depends on the patient’s over all condition and the stage of the disease once it is detected. Even so, something like the Habib Sealer, which facilitates surgical removal of a liver tumor, would very likely increase a patients chances for surviving liver cancer.
The Habib Sealer is being produced by Professor Habib’s medical supply company, EMcision. It is being marketed world wide by RITA Medical Systems Inc.
The Habib Sealer has already been approved for distribution in Europe. In the United States, FDA approval is still pending as of the writing of this article.
Professor Habib hopes that the Habib Sealer can be used, eventually, in surgical procedures for the spleen and kidney in the medium term, then for procedures for the lung, brain, and pancreas is the long term. The Habib Microwave Sealer, using microwaves to seal of blood vessels to tumors, is under development.