Neurological cancer surgeries require specialized tools that enhance imaging for precise cutting and removal of tissue without damaging adjacent neurological structures. The novel combination of high-resolution fast optical coherence tomography (OCT) alongside short pulsed nanosecond thulium (Tm) lasers offers stark advantages utilizing the superior beam quality, high volumetric tissue removal rates of thulium lasers with minimal residual thermal footprint in the tissue and avoiding damage to delicate sub-surface structures (e.g., nerves and microvessels); which has not been showcased before. A bench-top system is constructed, using a 15W 1940nm nanosecond pulsed Tm fiber laser (500uJ pulse energy, 100ns pulse duration, 30kHz repetition rate) for removing tissue and a swept source laser (1310±70nm, 100kHz sweep rate) is utilized for OCT imaging, forming a combined Tm/OCT system – a smart laser knife. The OCT image-guidance informs the Tm laser for cutting/removal of targeted tissue structures. Tissue phantoms were constructed to demonstrate surgical incision with blood vessel avoidance on the surface where 2mm wide 600um deep cuts are executed around the vessel using OCT to guide the procedure. Cutting up to delicate subsurface blood vessels (2mm deep) is demonstrated while avoiding damage to their walls. A tissue removal rate of 5mm^3/sec is obtained from the bench-top system. We constructed a blow-off model to characterize Tm cut depths taking into account the absorption coefficients and beam delivery systems to compute Arrhenius damage integrals. The model is used to compare predicted tissue removal rate and residual thermal injury with experimental values in response to Tm laser-tissue modification.
Nitesh Katta, Austin Mcelroy, Arnold Estrada, and Thomas E. Milner, "Optical coherence tomography (OCT) guided smart laser knife for cancer surgery (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10054, Advanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XV, 100540M (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 18 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2250699.5371718629001.
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