Cryogen cooling during laser tissue welding was explored as a means of reducing lateral thermal damage near the tissue surface and shortening operative time. Two centimetre long full-thickness incisions were made on the epilated backs of guinea pigs, in vivo. India ink was applied to the incision edges then clamps were used to appose the edges. A 4 mm diameter beam of 16 W, continuous-wave, 1.06 μm, Nd:YAG laser radiation was scanned over the incisions, producing ~100 ms pulses. There was a delay of 2 s between scans. The total irradiation time was varied from 1-2 min. Cryogen was delivered to the weld sitet through a solenoid valve in spurt durations of 20, 60 and 100 ms. The time between spurts was either 2 or 4 s, corresponding to one spurt every one or two laser scans. Histology and tensile strength measurements were used to evaluate laser welds. Total irradiation times were reduced from 10 min without surface cooling to under 1 min with surface cooling. The thermal denaturation profile showed less denaturation in the papillary dermis than in the mid-dermis. Welds created using optimized irradiation and cooling parameters had significantly higher tensile strengths (1.7 ± 0.4 kg cm-2) than measured in the control studies without cryogen cooling (1.0 ± 0.2 kg cm-2) (p <0.05). Cryogen cooling of the tissue surface during laser welding results in increased weld strengths while reducing thermal damage and operative times. Long-term studies will be necessary to determine weld strengths and the amount of scarring during wound healing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology