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New techniques continue to advance the field of surgery. High frequency sound waves, called ultrasound, are directed at kidney and gallbladder stones to break them apart so that they can be eliminated through the excretory system. Cryosurgery freezes and destroys abnormal tissue and is used to treat hemorrhoids and some cervical disorders, and to remove certain skin growths. Laser surgery, on the other hand, uses a beam of light to vaporize or destroy tissue, a procedure commonly employed in ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and thoracic surgery.
A variety of surgical procedures are performed using an endoscope, an instrument that permits doctors to view the inside of the body without making a large incision and through which special tools such as lasers or knives can be inserted to operate on a particular area of the body. Surgery using an endoscope, also called laparoscopy, is used to perform tubal sterilization, gall bladder removal, or lung removal. This technique is commonly used for biopsies, in which tissue is removed from an organ for evaluation under a microscope, or for removing patches of diseased tissue.
Transplantation surgery, in which organs or tissues are removed from one person and surgically implanted into another person, is now performed for the eye lens and cornea, blood, bones and bone marrow, heart, lung, liver, and pancreas. In severe burn cases, healthy skin from an uninjured site is transferred to an area that has been damaged. Patients typically receive transplants when their own organs fail. Donor organs come from recently deceased individuals who have indicated on organ donor cards a desire to donate organs or whose family members have authorized donation of the deceased's organs. Donated organs must be transplanted within 24 to 48 hours after a donor's death.
Ambulatory, or same-day surgery, is performed in a physician's office or clinic. It involves operations that use minimally invasive techniques, require less extensive cutting, and use anesthesia that clears rapidly from the body. Some types of plastic surgery, implantation of permanent pacemakers, breast surgery, and biopsies are typically performed in ambulatory surgical clinics.