In minimally invasive laser surgery procedures, establishing direct line of sight from outside the patient to the surgical site is often difficult (if not impossible). In such cases, fiber-coupled lasers are employed. This contributes to expand the accessibility of the surgical sites, but has a significant impact on the quality of the laser-tissue interactions: laser ablations are wider and tissue carbonization (thermal damage) is high. These side effects are unacceptable for delicate operations such as vocal cord microsurgeries.
To tackle this issue and significantly enhance the quality of endoscopic laser microsurgeries, we are developing miniaturized laser scanner technologies. Our devices enhance fiber-based laser-tissue interactions by: 1) scanning the laser beam to allow better tissue relaxation, and 2) focusing the laser beam to enable non-contact fine tissue ablations.
The unique enabling technology of our miniature laser scanners is magnetic actuation. Local low-intensity electromagnetic fields are created inside the device to actuate the surgical laser fiber. This constitutes a robust solution, enabling precise laser manipulation and accurate execution of high-speed scanning motions for top-quality tissue ablations.
In addition, our miniature laser scanners feature custom optical systems that allow precise non-contact tissue ablations. This allows the achievement of ablation widths smaller than the fiber core diameter, and also allows non-contact operation, contributing to further improvements in precision and quality.
A first research prototype of such system is shown in the video below. It measures 10 mm in diameter, offers a 4x4 sq.mm scanning workspace at a 20mm range, and can control the laser spot with 35µm precision.
The system is fully computer controlled. This enables real-time teleoperation and intraoperative planning, as possible with our CALM and Virtual Scalpel systems.