Some doctors use a CO2 laser instead of a scalpel to remove tongue cancer. However, these lasers are only used for visible tumors located on the front two-thirds of the tongue. Tumors at the base of the tongue are more difficult to see clearly. So surgeons often need to cut through the neck to get at the tumor site. In some cases, doctors may need to break the jaw to access the tumor.
Now, there's another option. It's called the OmniGuide BeamPath. Guy Petruzzelli, M.D, Ph.D., an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist at Rush University Medical Center, calls the procedure transoral laser microsurgery. The OmniGuide BeamPath combines a flexible fiber CO2 laser with a microscope to enable surgeons to visualize and access areas at the back of the mouth. The laser can then be used to cut and remove tumors or vaporize the tissue in minimally invasive surgery. The new device is highly accurate and safe to surrounding tissues. That allows doctors to preserve as much oral function as possible for the patient.
Use of the OmniGuide BeamPath laser is still limited. Petruzzelli says transoral laser microsurgery is best for patients with smaller tumors on the surface of the tongue. Patients with tumors that have invaded deeply into the tongue may not be good candidates for the procedure. The technique also requires a lot of room in the mouth for surgical tools and maneuvering. So it may be more of an option for those who are able to open their mouths very wide or who have lost their teeth.
For information about the OmniGuide® BeamPath system, visit the company's website at http://www.omni-guide.com.