Versajet used for burns

June 13, 2008 12:35:41 PM PDT
Water has been used as a source of power for years and now some Philadelphia doctors have found a new way to use it in the operating room.15-month-old Brendan Green looks like the quiet type, but a recent streak of curiosity got him in trouble while visiting with his grandparents.

"He pulled a cup of tea that was just made in the microwave down on him; it was about two cups of water," Meg Green, Brendan's mother, said.

The result was second-degree burns.

"His neck, his face, his left arm, and a small part of his left eye," Dr. Brooke Burkey said.

When skin is seriously burned, it can't heal until the outer, dead layers are removed.

That's usually done with a scalpel and a series of dressings changed once or twice a day.

Plastic surgeon Brooke Burkey at St. Christopher's Hospital says that can be a painful process that takes time, and anesthesia. Sometimes kids have to be put to sleep.

"Especially for little children, going through that even once a day, but certainly twice a day, can be a lot of trauma for them, as well as for their parents, and for us," Dr. Burkey said.

But when Brendan arrived, Dr. Burkey used VersaJet instead of traditional scalpels.

The Versajet is a new tool that uses water traveling at the speed of sound to take the dead skin off all at once.

"The VersaJet allowed us to take off that dead skin very quickly and precisely, and speed up Brendan's recovery," Dr. Burkey said.

In addition to cutting, the water also reduces the risk of infection, according to Dr. Burkey.

A month after his accident, Brendan's wounds have healed well, and look more a sunburn.

Right now, VersaJet is being used mostly for wounds, but doctors say because it's so precise, it could also be a big boost for some cosmetic procedures in the future.