PURPOSE To evaluate how variable working distances between the laser fiber and the stone influence ablation volume.
METHODS A laser fiber was fixed on a robotic arm perpendicular to an artificial stone. A single laser pulse was triggered at different working distances (0-2.0 mm in 0.2 mm increments) between the distal fiber tip and the stone. To achieve a measurable impact, pulse energy was set to 2 and 3 J, with either short or long pulse duration. Ablation volume was calculated with an optical microscope. Experiments were repeated five times for each setting.
RESULTS Highest ablation volume was observed with a long pulse of 3 J at a working distance of 0.4 mm between the laser fiber and the stone surface (p value < 0.05). At 2 J, the highest ablation volume was noticed with a short pulse in contact mode. However, ablation volume of the latter was not significantly greater than with a long pulse of 2 J at a working distance of 0.4 mm (p value > 0.05). Compared to lithotripsy in contact mode, triggering a single long pulse at 0.4 mm increased ablation volume by 81% (p value = 0.016) at 2 J and by 89% (p value = 0.034) at 3 J.
CONCLUSIONS For Ho:YAG laser lithotripsy, ablation volume may be higher in non-contact mode using long pulses, rather than in direct contact to the stone. Findings of the current study support the need of further studies of lithotripsy in non-contact mode.