Thulium fiber laser lithotripsy using tapered fibers

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Introduction: The Thulium fiber laser has recently been tested as a potential alternative to the Holmium:YAG laser for lithotripsy. This study explores use of a short taper for expanding the Thulium fiber laser beam at the distal tip of a small-core fiber. Methods: Thulium fiber laser radiation with a wavelength of 1,908 nm, 10 Hz pulse rate, 70 mJ pulse energy, and 1-millisecond pulse duration was delivered through a 2-m-length fiber with 150-mm-core-input-end, 300-mm-core-output-end, and 5-mm-length taper, in contact with human uric acid (UA) and calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) stones, ex vivo (n=10 each). Stone mass loss, stone crater depths, fiber transmission losses, fiber burn-back, irrigation rates, and deflection through a flexible ureteroscope were measured for the tapered fiber and compared with conventional fibers. Results: After delivery of 1,800 pulses through the tapered fiber, mass loss measured 12.7±2.6mg for UA and 7.2±0.8mg COM stones, comparable to conventional 100-mm-core fibers (12.6±2.5mg for UA and 6.8±1.7mg for COM stones). No transmission losses or burn-back occurred for the tapered fiber after 36,000 pulses, while a conventional 150-μm fiber experienced significant tip degradation after only 1,800 pulses. High irrigation rates were measured with the tapered fiber inserted through the working port of a flexible ureteroscope without hindering its deflection, mimicking that of a conventional 150 μm fiber. Conclusions: The short tapered distal fiber tip allows expansion of the laser beam, resulting in decreased fiber tip damage compared to conventional small-core fibers, without compromising fiber bending, stone vaporization efficiency, or irrigation rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Lithotripsy
  • Tapered fibers
  • Thulium
  • Urinary stones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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