Studies of Er-YAG laser interactions with soft tissue
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The ablation efficiency and depth of secondary thermal damage have been determined for a range of cadaveric soft tissues on exposure to radiation from a pulsed Er-YAG laser operating at 2.94μm. The tissues investigated included brain, small intestine, stomach, liver, heart, spleen, lung, aorta, cornea, kidney, skin and uterus. The results obtained are compared to those predicted by a simple one-dimensional model of the interaction. The amount of tissue damage varied between tissues. In cellular tissues it was approximately 20μm in extent on either side of the slot and at its base. In acellular tissues (aorta, cornea, etc.) the alteration in protein structure was more variable and was dependent upon the nature of the connective tissue fibres. Corneal collagen showed changes in protein structure up to 30μm from the edge of the slot, whereas aortic elastic fibres were little affected by the laser energy, apparently melting to form a coagulum that lined the slot.
Key wordsLaser tissue interaction Laser scalpel Tissue damage Erbium laser Er-YAG Laser surgery
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