New laser optical fiber for laser surgery
This article is from Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering 2677 (1996): 110, doi:10.1117/12.237555. Posted with permission.
Nd:YAG laser systems, coupled to silica fibers, have shown great benefits as surgical tools. Using the laser system with a bare silica fiber, laser surgeons can photocoagulate tissue to depths of 4 to 5 mm in a non-contact mode. In a contact mode, incision and cauterization of the nearby tissue can be achieved. Although these two capabilities provide powerful tools for hemostatic procedures, research performed at Iowa State University has shown that the silica fiber tips undergo extensive damage when in contact with tissue. Chemical and thermal degradation of the silica glass surface plays a key role. Damaged fibers do not transmit a significant fraction of the laser light launched down them. Instead, essentially all of the laser energy is converted to heat at the contact point. The tip can then be used only to incise tissue. We report here on the development and characterization of a new optical fiber that offers improved chemical resistance and also high temperature resistance. The new fibers were pulled from glass rods with a composition of 92.5 wt.% SiO2 and 7.5 wt.% TiO2 and then cladded with a fluorinated hard polymer. The new fibers effectively deliver energy even after the fiber comes into contact with tissue while the silica fiber tips undergo catastrophic damage. Also, preliminary clinical testing of the new fibers has demonstrated the stability of the fibers in contact with tissue during gynecological surgical procedures.