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Ultrasound Med Biol. 1996;22(2):151-64.

Physical characteristics and biological effects of laser-induced stress waves.

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Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.


Laser-induced stress waves can be generated by one of the following mechanisms: optical breakdown, ablation, or rapid heating of an absorbing medium. These three modes of laser interaction with matter allow the investigation of cellular and tissue responses to stress waves with different characteristics and under different conditions. The effects of stress waves on cells and tissues can be quite disparate. Stress waves can fracture tissue, kill cells, decrease cell viability and increase the permeability of the plasma membrane. They can induce deleterious effects during medical procedures of high power, short pulse lasers or, alternatively, may facilitate new therapeutic modalities, such as drug delivery and gene therapy. This review covers the generation of laser-induced stress waves and their effects on cell cultures and tissue.

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