With continued advancement of solid-state laser technology, high-energy lasers operating in the near-infrared (NIR) band are being applied in an increasing number of manufacturing techniques and medical treatments. Safety-related investigations of potentially harmful laser interaction with skin are commonplace, consisting of establishing the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) thresholds under various conditions, often utilizing the minimally-visible lesion (MVL) metric as an indication of damage. Likewise, characterization of ablation onset and velocity is of interest for therapeutic and surgical use, and concerns exceptionally high irradiance levels. However, skin injury response between these two exposure ranges is not well understood. This study utilized a 1070-nm Yb-doped, diode-pumped fiber laser to explore the response of excised porcine skin tissue to high-energy exposures within the supra-threshold injury region without inducing ablation. Concurrent high-speed videography was employed to assess the effect on the epidermis, with a dichotomous response determination given for three progressive damage event categories: observable permanent distortion on the surface, formation of an epidermal bubble due to bounded intra-cutaneous water vaporization, and rupture of said bubble during laser exposure. ED50 values were calculated for these categories under various pulse configurations and beam diameters, and logistic regression models predicted injury events with approximately 90% accuracy. The distinction of skin response into categories of increasing degrees of damage expands the current understanding of high-energy laser safety while also underlining the unique biophysical effects during induced water phase change in tissue. These observations could prove useful in augmenting biothermomechanical models of laser exposure in the supra-threshold region.
Michael P. DeLisi, Amanda M. Peterson, Lily A. Lile, Gary D. Noojin, Aurora D. Shingledecker, David J. Stolarski, Justin J. Zohner, Semih S. Kumru, and Robert J. Thomas, "Supra-threshold epidermis injury from near-infrared laser radiation prior to ablation onset," Proc. SPIE 10062, Optical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXVIII, 1006208 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 15 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253747.
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