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GW professor researching ways to improve human tissue dissection, reduce blood transfusions

WASHINGTON A George Washington University researcher recently received a grant to study ways to cut human tissue more efficiently, an effort that could minimize the need for blood transfusions and other products for patients during surgery.

Surgery comes with its own set of hazards but the introduction of outside blood or blood products can put a patient at even greater risk. Michael Keidar, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University, has been awarded a $445,000, five-year grant by U.S. Patent Innovations Inc. to develop technology that would limit such introductions by making plasma cutters and coagulators more effective.

Plasma cutters work by sending a pressurized gas, such as argon through a small channel. Through the channel, a negatively charged electrode is emitted and a spark is generated. As the gas passes through the channel, the spark heats the gas until it turns to plasma. This reaction creates a stream of directed plasma, which can be used to create precise incisions in medical patients and tissue.

Plasma, not to be confused with blood plasma which is the liquid component of blood and normally holds blood cells, is one of the four fundamental states of matter, along with solid, liquid and gas. Like gas, plasma does not have a defined shape or volume however unlike gas, it can be manipulated for use as beams or lasers.

Dr. Keidar's research will explore the range and parameters of plasma in several, currently used devices and investigate the effects of adjusting such variables as the flow rate and voltage to plasma, monitoring tissue reaction to those changes and identifying if the modifications are valuable to the commercial marketplace.

"Our main objective is to understand the basic physics of the plasma phenomena as well as plasma interaction with living tissue" said Dr. Keidar. "We will use existing devices and apply a variety of plasma diagnostics as well tissue temperature measurements to study physics. I expect that this research will lead to new devices and new applications."


Contact: Latarsha Gatlin
George Washington University

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