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J Biomed Opt. 2012 Mar;17(3):038002. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.3.038002.

Towards endoscopic ultrafast laser microsurgery of vocal folds.

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  • 1The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Vocal fold scarring is a predominant cause of voice disorders yet lacks a reliable treatment method. The injection of soft biomaterials to improve mechanical compliance of the vocal folds has emerged as a promising treatment. Here, we study the use of precise femtosecond laser microsurgery to ablate subsurface voids, with a goal of eventually creating a plane in dense subepithelial scar tissue into which biomaterials can be injected for their improved localization. Specifically, we demonstrate the ablation of small subepithelial voids in porcine vocal fold tissue up to 120 [micro sign]m below the surface such that larger voids in the active area of vocal fold mucosa (~3×10 mm(2)) can eventually be ablated in about 3 min. We use sub-μJ, 776-nm pulses from a compact femtosecond fiber laser system operating at a 500-kHz repetition rate. The use of relatively high repetition rates, with a small number of overlapping pulses, is critical to achieving ablation in a very short time while still avoiding significant heat deposition. Additionally, we use the same laser for nonlinear optical imaging to provide visual feedback of tissue structure and to confirm successful ablation. The ablation parameters, including pulse duration, pulse energy, spot size, and scanning speed, are comparable to the specifications in our recently developed miniaturized femtosecond laser surgery probes, illustrating the feasibility of developing an ultrafast laser surgical instrument.

© 2012 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).

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