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How do we assess the efficacy of Ho:YAG low-power laser lithotripsy for the treatment of upper tract urinary stones? Introducing the Joules/mm3 and laser activity concepts

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To estimate the total energy needed to ablate 1mm3 of stone volume (Joules/mm3) during flexible ureteroscopic lithotripsy using a low-power Ho:YAG laser device, as a proxy of lithotripsy efficacy.

Patients and methods

We selected 30 patients submitted to flexible ureteroscopy for renal stones whose volume was bigger than 500 mm3. A 35 W Ho:YAG laser (Dornier Medilas H Solvo 35, Germany) was used for every procedure with a 272 µm laser fiber. We recorded laser parameters, the total energy delivered by the laser fiber, the time from the first laser pulse until the last one (lithotripsy time), and the active laser time as provided by the machine. We then estimated J/mm3 values and determinants, along with ablation speed (mm3/s), and laser activity (ratio between laser active time and lithotripsy time).


Median (IQR) stone volume and stone density were respectively 1599 (630–3502) mm3 and 1040 (753–1275) Hounsfield units (HU). In terms of laser parameters, median (IQR) energy and frequency were 0.6 (0.4–0.8) J and 15 (15–18) Hz. Median (IQR) total delivered energy and lithotripsy time were 37,050 (13,375–57,680) J and 68 (36–88) min, respectively. Median (IQR) J/mm3 and ablation speed were, respectively, 19 (14–24) J/mm3 and 0.7 (0.4–0.9) mm3/s. The laser was active during 84% (70–95%) of the total lithotripsy time. HU density > 1000 was associated with reduced efficacy.


It is possible to perform laser lithotripsy using a low-power laser device with a virtually continuous laser activity. The estimation of the pre-operative parameters as well as the J/mm3 values are fundamental for a proper pre-operatory planning.

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Prof. Olivier Traxer is a consultant for Coloplast, Rocamed, Olympus, EMS, Boston Scientific and IPG



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Ventimiglia, E., Pauchard, F., Gorgen, A.R.H. et al. How do we assess the efficacy of Ho:YAG low-power laser lithotripsy for the treatment of upper tract urinary stones? Introducing the Joules/mm3 and laser activity concepts. World J Urol 39, 891–896 (2021).

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