Comparison of holmium: YAG and thulium fiber lasers for lithotripsy

Richard L. Blackmon, Pierce B. Irby, Nathaniel M. Fried

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Holmium:YAG laser is currently the most common laser lithotripter. However, recent experimental studies have demonstrated that the Thulium fiber laser is also capable of vaporizing urinary stones. The high-temperature water absorption coefficient for the Thulium wavelength (μa = 160 cm-1 at λ = 1908 nm) is significantly greater than for the Holmium wavelength (μa = 28 cm-1 at λ = 2120 nm). We hypothesize that this should translate into more efficient laser lithotripsy using the Thulium fiber laser. This study directly compares stone vaporization rates for Holmium and Thulium fiber lasers. Holmium laser radiation pulsed at 3 Hz with 70 mJ pulse energy and 220 μs pulse duration was delivered through a 100-μm-core silica fiber to human uric acid (UA) and calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) stones, ex vivo (n = 10 each). Thulium fiber laser radiation pulsed at 10 Hz with 70 mJ pulse energy and 1 ms pulse duration was also delivered through a 100-μm fiber for the same sets of 10 stones. For same number of pulses and total energy (126 J) delivered to each stone, mass loss averaged 2.4 ± 0.6 mg (UA) and 0.7 ± 0.2 mg (COM) for Holmium laser and 12.6 ± 2.5 mg (UA) and 6.8 ± 1.7 (COM) for Thulium fiber laser. UA and COM stone vaporization rates for Thulium fiber laser averaged 5-10 times higher than for Holmium laser at 70 mJ pulse energies. With further development, the Thulium fiber laser may represent an alternative to the conventional Holmium laser for more efficient laser lithotripsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
StatePublished - 2010
EventPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics VI - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 2010Jan 25 2010


OtherPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics VI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • ablation
  • fiber laser
  • holmium
  • lithotripsy
  • thulium
  • urinary stones
  • vaporization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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