Hollow steel tips for reducing distal fiber burn-back during thulium fiber laser lithotripsy

Thomas C. Hutchens, Richard L. Blackmon, Pierce B. Irby, Nathaniel M. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The use of thulium fiber laser (TFL) as a potential alternative laser lithotripter to the clinical holmium:YAG laser is being studied. The TFL's Gaussian spatial beam profile provides efficient coupling of higher laser power into smaller core fibers without proximal fiber tip degradation. Smaller fiber diameters are more desirable, because they free up space in the single working channel of the ureteroscope for increased saline irrigation rates and allow maximum ureteroscope deflection. However, distal fiber tip degradation and "burn-back" increase as fiber diameter decreases due to both excessive temperatures and mechanical stress experienced during stone ablation. To eliminate fiber tip burn-back, the distal tip of a 150-ìm core silica fiber was glued inside 1-cm-long steel tubing with fiber tip recessed 100, 250, 500, 1000, or 2000 ìm inside the steel tubing to create the hollow-tip fiber. TFL pulse energy of 34 mJ with 500-ìs pulse duration and 150-Hz pulse rate was delivered through the hollow-tip fibers in contact with human calcium oxalate monohydrate urinary stones during ex vivo studies. Significant fiber tip burn-back and degradation was observed for bare 150-μm core-diameter fibers. However, hollow steel tip fibers experienced minimal fiber burn-back without compromising stone ablation rates. A simple, robust, compact, and inexpensive hollow fiber tip design was characterized for minimizing distal fiber burn-back during the TFL lithotripsy. Although an increase in stone retropulsion was observed, potential integration of the hollow fiber tip into a stone basket may provide rapid stone vaporization, while minimizing retropulsion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number078001
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • burn back
  • hollow
  • lithotripsy
  • small-core fiber
  • thulium
  • urinary stones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Medicine(all)


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