Laser ablation of skull tissue using transverse excited 9.6-μm CO2 lasers with pulse durations of 1-100 μs

Nathaniel M. Fried, Daniel Fried

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Craniotomy using a drill and saw frequently results in fragmentation of the skull plate. Lasers have the potential to remove the skull plate intact. TE CO2 lasers operating at the peak absorption wavelength of bone (λ=9.6 μm) and with pulse durations of 5-10 μs, approximately the thermal relaxation time in hard tissue, produced high ablation rates and minimal peripheral thermal damage. Both thick (2 mm) and thin (250 μm) bovine skull samples were perforated and the ablation rates calculated. Results were compared with Q-switched and free-running Er:YAG lasers (λ=2.94 μm, τp = 150 ns and 150 μs). The CO2 laser perforated thick sections at ablation rates of 10-15 μm per pulse and fluences of approx. 6 J/cm2. There was no discernible thermal damage and no need for water irrigation during ablation. Pulse durations ≥ 20 μs resulted in significant tissue charring which increased with the pulse duration. Although the Er:YAG laser produced ablation rates of approx. 100 μm per pulse, fluences > 30 J/cm2 were required to perforate thick samples, and thermal damage measured 25-40 μm. In summary, the novel 5-10 μs pulse length of the TE CO2 laser is long enough to avoid a marked reduction in the ablation rate due to plasma formation and short enough to avoid peripheral thermal damage through thermal diffusion during the laser pulse. Further studies with the TE CO2 laser are warranted for potential clinical application in craniotomy procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers
Number of pages3
StatePublished - 2000
EventLaser-Tissue Interaction XI: Photochemical, Photothermal, and Photomechanical - San Jose, CA, USA
Duration: Jan 22 2000Jan 27 2000


OtherLaser-Tissue Interaction XI: Photochemical, Photothermal, and Photomechanical
CitySan Jose, CA, USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Laser ablation of skull tissue using transverse excited 9.6-μm CO2 lasers with pulse durations of 1-100 μs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this