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Cyst Blasting

For an internal cyst, try sonics
  [vote for,

Last night a friend told me about another person who apparently has a painful internal cyst that flares during her monthly cycle. This morning I had an Idea, and have attempted to learn more to see what its chances are.

Many cysts occur at the skin, and are easily removed. Some are internal and thus can require significant/expensive surgery to remove. What's a cash-strapped person to do, besides suffer?

Well, for a long time kidney stones were also a significant problem, in terms of removal. Then they invented a way to blast them apart with sound waves (link). No invasive surgery required, because the body is able to deal with the small bits and pieces that result.

I wonder if that technique can work with internal cysts. They certainly are often "hard lumps", but they also are not so hard as kidney stones. They need to be hard/brittle to be blast-able by sound waves. Perhaps some are?

Anyway, I decided to post the Idea to the HalfBakery, since what I found out so far doesn't seem to render the notion impossible. And, of course, if it worked, it would be less expensive than surgery.

Vernon, Apr 26 2012

About kidney stone blasting http://www.ehow.com...-kidney-stones.html
For anyone who wants to know more; can also work on gall stones [Vernon, Apr 26 2012]

Gold doping of tumours for radiotherapy http://iopscience.i...-9155_53_20_005.pdf
[4whom, May 01 2012]

Gold doping of tumours for chemotherapy http://www.understa...mmune-sciences.html
[4whom, May 01 2012]


       I suspect most cysts are fluid-filled (in fact, that may be the definition of a cyst). In that case, they're going to look much the same as any other tissue, to sound waves.   

       Also, I'm not sure but I think that if you want to get rid of a cyst, you need to remove it completely and not leave any bits of its wall behind (but I am not sure).
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 26 2012

       Are you sure?
spidermother, Apr 26 2012

       I think is cyst is by definition fluid filled. A cyst which flares with cycle is probably endometriosis - and so would fill with blood on cycling.   

       The other thing about hard stones in the lumen of tubes is that the normal passage of whatever bodily substance traverses the tube will carry away the bits of sonicated stone. Whither the bits of some intraabdominal mass?
bungston, Apr 26 2012

       Cysts are indeed fluid-filled, although depending on location and progression that fluid varies in density, consistency, and composition. Sometimes it can be a very stiff gel, like dried toothpaste, or even a soft but fibrous material. At any rate, I ran this one by my Mom (the M.D.) and she doubts ultrasound-related techniques like those used to bust mineral deposits would be effective in destroying a cyst, for two reasons:   

       1) a cyst just isn't hard/brittle enough   

       2) stones, once broken up, are washed away, but a cyst is stuff trapped in a pocket; it has nowhere to go.   

       She did say that ultrasound is a handy tool for locating internal cysts, but for some reason not always favored.   

       I anticipated something involving little sticks of dynamite and tiny blasting caps. Fire in the hole!
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       It occurs to me that sonics could be applied in an another way. Instead of attempting destruction via sonic resonance, perhaps sonic absorption can work. Sonic energy IS energy, after all, any anything that absorbs enough energy will get hot. Maybe boil/explode? (OK, I know, that's probably going to be too painful to contemplate seriously.)
Vernon, Apr 26 2012

       Painful? Most likely. But interesting nonetheless. I've had ultrasound therapy done on muscle spasms before, which builds precisely targeted heat inside the muscle fibers. If the person performing it doesn't keep moving, things can get burned.
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       /probably going to be too painful/   

       When the bar is set by a person with a knife looking to cut, probably nothing is too painful.   

       If a cyst such as you describe could be treated such that the component cells no longer can respond to hormones that would fix the pain. Sonic destruction would be attractve over, say, radiation in that there is less mutagenesis. Because sound waves diffuse it would be less preceise.   

       But I wonder if you could use constructive interference of two or more sound waves to produce the high energy waves on the target item? That would be nifty keen! Thermal imaging could monitor heat produced. The area could be heated and kept hot for enough time to kill the cells. Of course really this is again about cancer. The answer for someone with a cyst that hurts with the cycle is not to cycle.
bungston, Apr 26 2012

       That _would_ be nifty keen.
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       Maybe, but we liked your" tiny sticks of dynamite" idea better.
8th of 7, Apr 26 2012

       Just out of curiousity, how small can an explosive device be made until it becomes merely a miniature incendiary?
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       [Alterother], the answer is: "one atom". Because nuclear fission qualifies as an explosion.
Vernon, Apr 26 2012

       <placeholder for long, detailed and pedantic explanation>
8th of 7, Apr 26 2012

       Good point, [Vern]. I should have clarified 'conventional explosive', like dynamite or plastique. I don't have a lot of detailed knowledge in that field. I know more about the variety of propellants most people think of as 'gunpowder', but those are, of course, propellants. They don't explode, they just burn really fast. Cordite, for example, burns at the same rate (particle for particle) no matter if you have a couple of molecules or a whole room of the stuff. I was just wondering if conventional explosives have some kind of 'minimum yield' below which they cannot detonate, or if a bomb could really be constructed on a microscopic scale and used in some excrutiatingly precise surgical application, like controlled bone fracture or cyst blasting.
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       Interesting concept but afaik there's some pretty poisonous byproducts... ... ... "excruciating".
FlyingToaster, Apr 26 2012

       Poisonous byproducts... As opposed to, say, chemotherapy, which is completely clean and non-toxic.   

       Just kidding, I know what you mean. Still, the body can handle a little bit of toxic residue. Even normal surgery can lead to build-up of toxic enzymes when blood flow to certain areas is restricted or cut off for protracted periods. I know that some explosives and propellants can act as potent nerve agents, but every invasive procedure involves a risk/reward balance.
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       Blast'o'cyst shirley...   

       //I wonder if you could use constructive interference of two or more sound waves to produce the high energy waves on the target item?//   

       Beat me to it.
A cymatic interference pattern the size of the cyst. I wonder if increasing the frequency would pulverize the bits into particles small enough to be re-absorbed by the bloodstream bypassing the whole pocket issue altogether by blasting the pocket itself last. This may even happen on its own as the internal goo shrinks. (+)

       // I anticipated something involving little sticks of dynamite and tiny blasting caps. Fire in the hole!   

       You didn't mention the little men though. I foresee it is a version of Armageddon (the film, not the bit in the bible) where tiny astronauts take off and..thence a muffled, tiny high-pitched voice is heard to say "fire in the hole"   

       But I'm heavily distracted by the conjunction of "has a painful internal cyst that flares during her monthly cycle." and dynamiting. Cuts to inside of gynaecological department of medical school, pans down corridor to timetable tacked to notice board..Semester 1 - 9.00-10.00 Dynamiting practice...
not_morrison_rm, Apr 26 2012

       All of these solutions, and the conventional surgical option, seem to revolve around removing the cyst from the patient. Can I suggest that the alternative option, of removing the patient from the cyst, might prove highly fruitful?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 26 2012

       // You didn't mention the little men //   

       That's because I thought it would make me sound crazy.   

       Wait... how do you know about the little men?
Alterother, Apr 26 2012

       Sounds like an ovarian cyst. They affect most women, though some require surgical intervention to resolve.   

       I seem to remember a woman from Texas had one removed in the early 20th century, at about 320 lb.
UnaBubba, Apr 26 2012


       There's always one, isn't there …?
8th of 7, Apr 26 2012

       Do cysts start from a cystem?
Ling, Apr 26 2012

       Cystem of a downer.   

       Cysts won't respond to lithothripsy, which is used to shatter to shatter calculi (hard, gritty or rocky deposits of calcium, uric acid or cholesterol and other glandular secretions.)   

       The cyst is usually aspirated (fluid drawn off) with a hollow needle and the cyst shell removed surgically, if necessary.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012

       //The cyst is usually aspirated (fluid drawn off) with a hollow needle and the cyst shell removed surgically, if necessary.//   

       Hmm. How about aspirating, then squirting in something to liquify the shell (extract of spider-venom, whatever). A quick shake, then slurp it all out.
Loris, Apr 27 2012

       I suppose that would be fine... A sort of "Farewell, my ovaries and uterus." moment.
UnaBubba, Apr 27 2012

       Unfortunately cysts are relatively similar, in many respects, to the surrounding tissue. So resonance will work on it, but on other things as well. Guided interference patterns that deep create interference patterns over a large area, so what you are doing to your target area you will be doing at the other anti-nodes. I think there has been some work on doping internal cysts and then targeting that compound. I know someone was doping tumours with gold and then bombarding that with microwaves. Will check to see.
4whom, May 01 2012


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