How Lasers Ablate Stones: In Vitro Study of Laser Lithotripsy (Ho:YAG and Tm-Fiber Lasers) in Different Environments

Mark Taratkin, Ekaterina Laukhtina, Nirmish Singla, Alexander Tarasov, Tatyana Alekseeva, Mikhail Enikeev, Dmitry Enikeev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: There are two main mechanisms of stone ablation with long-pulsed infrared lasers: photothermal and photomechanical. Which of them is primary in stone destruction is still a matter of discussion. Water holds importance in both mechanisms but plays a major role in the latter. We sought to identify the prevailing mechanism of stone ablation by evaluating the stone mass loss after lithotripsy in different media. Materials and Methods: We tested a holmium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Ho:YAG) laser (100 W; Lumenis), a thulium-fiber laser U1 (TFL U1) (120 W; NTO IRE-Polus, Russia), and a SuperPulse thulium-fiber laser U2 (TFL U2) (500 W; NTO IRE-Polus). A single set of laser parameters (15 W = 0.5 J × 30 Hz) was used. Contact lithotripsy was performed in phantoms (BegoStones) in different settings: (a) hydrated phantoms in water, (b) hydrated phantoms in air, (c) dehydrated phantoms in water, and (d) dehydrated phantoms in air. Laser ablation was performed with total energy of 0.3 kJ. Phantom mass loss was defined as the difference between the initial phantom mass and the final phantom mass of the ablated phantoms. Results: All lasers demonstrated effective ablation in hydrated phantoms ablated in water; no visual differences between the lasers were detected. The ablation of dehydrated phantoms in air was also effective with visible vapor during ablation and condensation on the cuvette wall. Dehydrated phantoms in water and in air show minimal to no ablation accompanied with formation of white crust on phantom surface. Among laser types, TFL U2 had the highest phantom mass loss in all groups except for dehydrated phantoms ablated in air. Conclusions: Our results suggest that both photothermal and thermomechanical ablation mechanisms (explosive vaporization) occur in parallel during laser lithotripsy. In Ho:YAG and TFL U2 stone ablation explosive vaporization prevails, whereas in TFL U1 ablation photothermal mechanism appears to predominate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-936
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Endourology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ho:YAG laser
  • laser lithotripsy
  • stone disease
  • thulium fiber laser

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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