Optical nerve stimulation using infrared laser radiation has recently been developed as a potential alternative to electrical nerve stimulation. However, recent studies have focused primarily on pulsed delivery of the laser radiation and at relatively low pulse rates. The objective of this study is to demonstrate faster optical stimulation of the prostate cavernous nerves using continuous-wave (cw) infrared laser radiation for potential diagnostic applications. A thulium fiber laser (λ=1870 nm) is used for noncontact optical stimulation of the rat prostate cavernous nerves in vivo. Optical nerve stimulation, as measured by an intracavernous pressure (ICP) response in the penis, is achieved with the laser operating in either cw mode, or with a 5-ms pulse duration at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100 Hz. Successful optical stimulation is observed to be primarily dependent on a threshold nerve temperature (42 to 45 °C), rather than an incident fluence, as previously reported. cw optical nerve stimulation provides a significantly faster ICP response time using a lower power (and also less expensive) laser than pulsed stimulation. cw optical nerve stimulation may therefore represent an alternative mode of stimulation for intraoperative diagnostic applications where a rapid response is critical, such as identification of the cavernous nerves during prostate cancer surgery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Biomedical Engineering