Date: 30 Apr 2008

Structure of intracorneal femtosecond laser pulse effects in conical incision profiles

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Abstract

Purpose

As the applicative potential of femtosecond lasers is to be extended from LASIK-flap creation into intrastromal ablation uses, the interdependency of influencing factors has to be understood. We therefore evaluated the relationship between focus depth, energy level, spatial distribution and morphology of fs-Laser pulse effects at a given repetition rate in corneal tissue.

Methods

The experimental study included five porcine corneae obtained from slaughterhouse pigs. Using a prototype of a femtosecond laser (FEMTEC; 20/10 Perfect Vision AG, Heidelberg, Germany), a conical circular cut was performed in posterior-anterior direction through the entire corneal profile. The laser energy applied ranged from 4.0 to 8.5 μJ. Histological sections (n = 337) of a thickness of 7 μm were obtained, stained with hematoxylin/eosin, and morphometrically evaluated.

Results

The intrastromal femtosecond laser effects were aligned throughout the corneal stroma in a line that followed the dissection line programmed for the laser. The lesions were mostly of roughly elliptic shape with a fine dense lining at the inner wall, without evidence of a collateral damage beyond the disruption cavity. The mean maximal diameter of the intrastromal laser effects was 34.2 ± 18.6 μm (range: 9–120 μm), and the mean maximal lesion diameter was 60.8 ± 42.6 μm. In multivariate analysis, the lesion type (single shot cavity, partly confluent lesions, and fully confluent lesions) was significantly associated with the laser energy applied (P = 0.027) and the lesion diameter (P = 0.01).

Conclusions

At higher laser energies, the intrastromal laser lesions were larger and more confluent, suggesting that, with the prototype of femtosecond laser used, a higher laser energy may lead to more confluent intrastromal laser effects. It may facilitate the complete cutting of the corneal tissue with the laser. Neither discernable debris nor stainable collateral damage were detected, suggesting a purely mechanical action of the laser.