peak-surgical-logo-200px.gifPalo Alto, Calif.-based PEAK Surgical, a device company developing new surgical tools that aim to control bleeding via electric energy, raised $21 million in a third funding round. Investors included Signet Healthcare Partners, Lehman Brothers and Venrock Associates.

The company is working on new electrosurgical tools that it says should offer significant improvements over the existing technology for using electric pulses to heat surgical instruments for cutting or coagulation of tissue. PEAK doesn’t go into great detail about its technique on its Web site or in its release, except to cite a number of scientific references and to say that it relies on short-pulsed, “plasma-mediated” electrical discharges.

The technology, however, originated at Stanford, where PEAK, it turns out, stands for “pulsed electron-avalanche knife.” The technique, developed by a team led by Daniel Palanker, involves using a high voltage electric field to create a plasma, a kind of electrically charged gas, which can be shaped and controlled to make clean cuts in tissue.

PEAK — the company, that is — claims the technology can limit the heat damage that normal electrosurgical tools can cause to surrounding tissue. Although the technique seems to have originated for use in retinal surgery, PEAK says that it is exploring its use in almost every surgical field but ophthalmic, including general, heart, gynecologic, plastic and neurological surgery.