While you can use a magnet to stick notes to your refrigerator, magnets are also being used to enhance surgery at the University of Iowa. Two giant magnets, each weighing a thousand pounds, are being used to maneuver tiny metal-tipped tubes, or catheters, with great precision through the body. Dr. Brian Olshansky , director of electrophysiology at U-I Heart Care, was among the first to use the magnetic surgical system, which was developed in Iowa City.Dr. Olshansky took part in the first heart procedure using the technology last week “and it was amazing. We were able to get into the smallest nooks and crannies of blood vessels that we would’ve had an extremely hard time doing otherwise and we had no trouble.” He says the tip of catheter inside the heart has a small magnet, and the magnets outside the body are several thousand pounds and allow them to turn and twist the catheter. Magnetic medicine is still the subject of experimentation, but Dr. Olshansky says it will be revolutionary for its surgical applications. It’s proven successful in placing catheters in the heart. The next tests will be done on the lung. This is a first in Iowa while seven similar magnetic systems are now on-line in the U.S. and only 11 worldwide.
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