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Free electron laser ablation of articular and fibro‐cartilage at 2.79, 2.9, 6.1, and 6.45 μm: Mass removal studies

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Background and objective

The wavelength and tissue-composition dependence of cartilage ablation was examined using selected mid-infrared laser wavelengths.

Study design/materials and methods

The mass removal produced by pulsed laser ablation of articular and fibro-cartilage (meniscus) were measured. The wavelengths examined were 2.79, 2.9, 6.1, and 6.45 microm and provided by a free electron laser (FEL) emitting 4 microsecond macropulses consisting of 1-2 picoseconds duration micropulses delivered at 350 picosecond intervals. The measurement of tissue mass removal was conducted using a microbalance during laser ablation.


These studies demonstrated that for articular cartilage the highest mass removal was achieved at lambda = 6.1 microm followed by, in order, lambda = 2.79, 2.9, and 6.45 microm. In comparison, the maximum mass removal for fibro-cartilage was achieved using lambda = 6.1 microm radiation with no statistically significant differences in mass removal provided by the other wavelengths. In evaluation of the comparative influence of each wavelength on tissue type, there was no difference in ablation efficiency between articular and fibro-cartilage at lambda = 6.1 microm. However, the ablation efficiency of articular cartilage was higher than that of fibro-cartilage at both lambda = 2.79 and 2.9 microm. By contrast, lambda = 6.45 microm radiation ablated fibro-cartilage more efficiently than articular cartilage at radiant exposures greater than 12 J/cm2.


The mass removal of articular and fibro-cartilage produced by FEL ablation at selected mid-IR wavelengths was measured as a function of incident radiant exposure. The ablation efficiency was found to depend on both wavelength and tissue type. The 6.1 microm wavelength was found to provide the highest ablation efficiency for both articular and fibro-cartilage.

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