Laser lithotripsy was invented at Wellman Center for Photomedicine in the 1980s to remove impacted stones from the urinary tract. Laser pulses delivered through a fiber optic are used to pulverize the stone, avoiding surgery. The technology was licensed to Candela Corporation, which produced the first commercial laser lithotripsy system.
A urologist inserts a scope into the urinary tract to locate the stone. The type of the scope may be cystoscope, ureteroscope, renoscope or nephroscope. A laser fiber is inserted through the working channel of the scope, and laser is directly emitted to the stone. The stone is disintegrated and the remaining pieces are washed out of the urinary tract.
This procedure is widely available in most hospitals in the world.
Holmium Laser Lithotripsy
Holmium laser with wavelength of 2100nm (infrared band) is used to break urinary stones which is ideal for breaking stones (even hardest). In ureteroscopy method, a thin telescope called ureteroscope will be passed through the natural urinary passage from the penis up the bladder into the ureter where the stone is. The Holmium laser fiber can be placed in contact with the stone or adjacent to it. Short Holmium laser pulses create a shockwave that causes fragmentation of the stone. Holmium laser lithotripsy is superior to Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) due to high success rate (ESWL can't break all stones) and lesser complications.
- "Research Discoveries". Wellman Center for Photomedicine. Retrieved 30 April 2011.