MUHC surgeons use new high-tech surgical laser to treat ear, nose and throat disorders


Thanks to generous donors, surgeons at the MUHC have received a state-of-the-art surgical laser that will make ear, nose and throat surgery safer and less invasive to patients.

This latest addition to the department of otololaryngology (also known as OTL or ENT — ear, nose and throat) at the MUHC is a new CO2 surgical laser coupled with a microscope. The new laser has multiple applications in ENT, including removing tumors and polyps in the nasal cavities, the mouth and vocal cords.

The new high-tech device has numerous advantages. It directs a powerful beam of light that makes very precise surgical incisions. Surgical removal of malignant tumors of the vocal cords can now be performed via the mouth by using the laser attached to a microscope. This eliminates the need for an external surgical approach, which means cutting through skin, fat and muscle to reach the tumor.

"Procedures performed using the CO2 surgical laser result in minimal bleeding and collateral damage, making it easier for the surgeon to see the area we are treating," says Dr. Karen Kost, MUHC otolaryngologist and surgeon. The majority of surgeries will no longer require a tracheostomy and can now be performed on a day surgery basis, which allows patients to recuperate at home and return to normal activities in a shorter period of time. As Dr. Kost explains: "This new laser is like having a pen to map out and burn away at the cancer or other abnormal structures in the mouth, nose and throat. From the most life-threatening cancers of the larynx and pharynx to the most benign polyps and papillomas, it will reduce the patients' discomfort and decrease the incidence of complications."

The CO2 surgical laser was purchased through the generosity of donors who raised the funds to purchase this $200,000 device. It will be inaugurated on February 23, 2005 at 3:00 pm at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC. Dr. Kost will provide a demonstration of how the technology is applied.

This year the MUHC celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the department of otololaryngology. The department has evolved into a centre of excellence with respect to the delivery of improved clinical services, research and teaching in the fields of head and neck oncology, hearing loss, treatment of nasal and sinus disorders, evaluation of voice and swallowing problems, speech therapy, vestibular rehabilitation (dizziness and imbalance), and infant hearing screening. It has achieved such milestones as the first cochlear implant ever done in Quebec, performed by Dr. Melvin Schloss in 1984, to image-guided sinus and skull base surgery performed by Drs. Anthony Zeitouni, Mark Samaha and Saul Frenkiel in 2004 using "stealth" technology.

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Contact Information

Seeta Ramdass
McGill University Health Centre Public Relations & Communications Services
Office Phone: 
514-934-1934 ext. 31560