On April 27th Ukrainian surgeons demonstrated their Russian colleagues their revolutionary method of stitching human tissue by means of electric welding.
Russian surgeons appeared skeptic at first. “There is no point in this. Surgery is a symphony, ballet; not electric welding,” exclaimed they.
President of Ukrainian Academy of Science Boris Evgenievich Paton once went water skiing and broke a leg. While in a cast, Paton began thinking about global issues of medicine. It was during that time, that the academician was suddenly enlightened with the idea to use electric welding in medicine to heal bones fast.
Academician Boris Paton, while still being a director of the Institute of welding and super hard alloys ordered his staff to develop such revolutionary method. Experiments began. These were the events of 1996.
Paton informed Ukrainian security services of his new invention. Afterwards, medical department of defense headed by Major-General Mikhail Zakharash, has also expressed its interest in the research. Zakharash conducted his first surgery using the new technique introduced by Paton in 2000.
As a result of numerous experiments conducted on dogs and rabbits, it turned out that bone tissues were resistant to electric welding. However, soft tissues could be welded very well.
What needs to be done to weld two pieces of iron? The two pieces have to be connected and melted metal (i.e. welding material) needs to be poured over them. Have you ever seen a welder? He holds a rod-electrode in one hand. This is his welding material. One sees myriads of sparks and the rod begins to melt thus welding the two iron pieces together.
In surgery, according to Paton's method, albumin (intercellular protein) acts as such welding material. Two tissues are connected at first; then the “welding material” is placed on top. Afterwards, light electric current is being administered. The protein heats up reaching 65-70 degrees Centigrade and starts coagulating. As a result, albumin welds the cut. The process is almost absolutely bloodless. The stitch turns out to be ideal. It disappears completely after 90 days.
Main instruments that are used by a surgeon-electric welder are a clamp and tweezers with wires attached to a computer. This computer is the actual welding apparatus. Before the actual surgery, a doctor inputs all of the parameters, since different programs are needed to “weld” one's stomach or one's liver for instance. Different tissue structures require different electric currents.
In the course of two years, Ukrainian surgeons conducted 2100 surgeries. They welded skin, liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, stomach, intestines, fallopian tubes. Recently, they started working on welding brain tissue. There are currently 6 welding apparatuses in Ukraine. Each costs $20 000 USD.
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