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A laser scalpel is a scalpel for surgery, cutting or ablating living biological tissue by the energy of laser light. The laser scalpel was invented in 1964. In soft tissue laser surgery, a laser beam ablates or vaporizes the soft tissue with high water content. Diode, Nd: and Er:YAG, and CO2 lasers are used most commonly in soft tissue surgery.
CO2 lasers are best for cutting soft tissue because their wavelength is most absorbed by water. The focused CO2 laser beam vaporizes tissue precisely, with little thermal damage to surrounding tissues (thermal coagulation zone is as little as 50 microns). The surgical outcome is thus safe and predictable. The CO2 laser is used in virtually all soft tissue procedures, including face lifts, tumor excision, and surgeries in the oral cavity. CO2 laser surgery is praised for minimized bleeding, less swelling and discomfort, reduced infection risk, and less procedure time, as compared to traditional scalpel surgery. Applications include oral surgery, periodontal surgery, oncological surgery, among many others.
For research use in cell biology, special laser micro-scalpels can make cuts smaller than a single cell.
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- Leon Danaila, Mihail-Lucian Pascu: Lasers in Neurosurgery, 2001, ISBN 973-27-0802-6
- K. K. Jain: Handbook of Laser Neurosurgery, 1983, ISBN 0-398-04844-4