Surgery with Sound

February 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Hi MAT 120 students! My name is Paul Timmermann and I hope to share some great knowledge with you this semester. Before I tell you about this great new technology in the medical field, I wanted to tell you a little about myself. I am a senior Business Information Systems major here at Illinois State University. I currently work as a business analyst at the Business Intelligence and Technology Solutions unit in Julian Hall, which is a hidden gem here at ISU. Overall, my advise to everyone this semester is take advantage of every learning opportunity you get (especially the ISU Tech Blog), as you never know when it will be useful later in life.

At a recent TED Talk, Yoav Medan, Chief Systems Architect at InSightec Ltd., explained his research in a non-invasive surgical technique . Dr. Medan uses a technique that involves ultrasound waves to target a particular area of a patient’s body. In his talk, Dr. Medan explains the idea of using ultrasound to perform surgery is not a novelty idea. In fact, research began on ultrasonic surgery in the early 1900s. The challenge faced by researchers in the field has been the lack of ability to understand exactly what the ultrasound waves were affecting. The contemporary version of ultrasonic surgery involves a combination of ultrasound and MRI. This new method is called MRI-guided focused ultrasound. The MRI provides a real time view of the patients targeted area to ensure the surgeon is targeting the correct area. Overall, this great new technology allows doctors to perform surgery on patients with the client of a mouse and without ever making an incision in the patients body.

An illustration of focused ultrasonic waves used to treat uterine fibriods.

As Dr. Medan explains, the applications for this method are limitless. During his talk he tells stories of using the treatment to help cure everything from Parkinson’s disease to disabling pains. I think the greatest aspect of this surgery is the instantaneous results. The patient receiving the ultrasonic treatment noticed immediate relief and did not have any issues with recovery.

Unfortunately, due to regulations this still experimental process has not been applied to all potential areas of use. Dr. Medan seemed hopeful of its applications to various cancers, specifically prostate and breast cancer. Like many new technologies, adoption and stakeholder buy-in is still an issue even with a fairly success technology.

Dr. Medan has pursued a career in technology for quite sometime, prior to his research in MRI-guided focused ultrasound he spent 17 years in research and management at the IBM Research Division. As a future technology professional, I am thoroughly inspired by an individual like Dr. Medan as he has utilized the experience he gained from IBM and other technical experiences to eventually develop a project that could potentially improve the quality of life of thousands of people.

Below I have embedded the TED Talk video, and I highly encourage you to check it out.

If you would like to learn more about the MRI-guided focused ultrasound visit:

To read Yoav Medan’s full TED profile visit:

I hope you enjoyed this article! Don’t forget the quiz!

Best regards,



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