Detachable fiber optic tips for use in thulium fiber laser lithotripsy

Thomas C. Hutchens, Richard L. Blackmon, Pierce B. Irby, Nathaniel M. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The thulium fiber laser (TFL) has recently been proposed as an alternative to the Holmium:YAG (Ho:YAG) laser for lithotripsy. The TFL's Gaussian spatial beam profile provides higher power transmission through smaller optical fibers with reduced proximal fiber tip damage, and improved saline irrigation and flexibility through the ureteroscope. However, distal fiber tip damage may still occur during stone fragmentation, resulting in disposal of the entire fiber after the procedure. A novel design for a short, detachable, distal fiber tip that can fit into an ureteroscope's working channel is proposed. A prototype, twist-lock, spring-loaded mechanism was constructed using micromachining methods, mating a 150-μm-core trunk fiber to 300-μm-core fiber tip. Optical transmission measuring 80% was observed using a 30-mJ pulse energy and 500-μs pulse duration. Ex vivo human calcium oxalate monohydrate urinary stones were vaporized at an average rate of 187 μg/s using 20-Hz modulated, 50% duty cycle 5 pulse packets. The highest stone ablation rates corresponded to the highest fiber tip degradation, thus providing motivation for use of detachable and disposable distal fiber tips during lithotripsy. The 1-mm outer-diameter prototype also functioned comparable to previously tested tapered fiber tips.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number038001
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Detachable fiber
  • Lithotripsy
  • Roughness
  • Tapered
  • Thulium
  • Urinary stones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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