The Holmium:YAG laser (λ = 2120 nm) is currently the preferred laser for fragmenting kidney stones in the clinic.
However, this laser has some limitations, including operation at low pulse rates and a multimode spatial beam
profile which prohibits its use with smaller, more flexible optical fibers. Our laboratory is studying the Thulium
fiber laser (λ = 1908 nm) as an alternative lithotripter. The TFL has several advantages, including lower stone
ablation thresholds, use with smaller and more flexible fibers, and operation at arbitrary pulse lengths and pulse
rates. Previous studies have reported increased stone ablation rates with TFL operation at higher pulse rates,
however, stone retropulsion remains an obstacle to even more efficient stone ablation. This study explores TFL
operation at high pulse rates in combination with a stone stabilization device (e.g. stone basket) for improved
efficiency. A TFL beam with pulse energy of 35 mJ, pulse duration of 500-μs, and pulse rates of 10-500 Hz was
coupled into 100-μm-core, low-OH, silica fibers, in contact mode with uric acid and calcium oxalate monohydrate
stones, ex vivo. TFL operation at 500 Hz produced UA and COM stone ablation rates up to 5.0 mg/s and 1.3 mg/s,
respectively. High TFL pulse rates produced increased stone ablation rates sufficient for use in the clinic.