Femtosecond laser lithotripsy: Feasibility and ablation mechanism

Jinze Qiu, Joel M H Teichman, Tianyi Wang, Joseph Neev, Randolph D. Glickman, Kin Foong Chan, Thomas E. Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Light emitted from a femtosecond laser is capable of plasma-induced ablation of various materials. We tested the feasibility of utilizing femtosecond-pulsed laser radiation (λ = 800 nm, 140 fs, 0.9 mJ/pulse) for ablation of urinary calculi. Ablation craters were observed in human calculi of greater than 90% calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM), cystine (CYST), or magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate (MAPH). Largest crater volumes were achieved on CYST stones, among the most difficult stones to fragment using Holmium:YAG (Ho:YAG) lithotripsy. Diameter of debris was characterized using optical microscopy and found to be less than 20 μm, substantially smaller than that produced by long-pulsed Ho:YAG ablation. Stone retropulsion, monitored by a high-speed camera system with a spatial resolution of 15 μm, was negligible for stones with mass as small as 0.06 g. Peak shock wave pressures were less than 2 bars, measured by a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) needle hydrophone. Ablation dynamics were visualized and characterized with pump-probe imaging and fast flash photography and correlated to shock wave pressures. Because femtosecond-pulsed laser ablates urinary calculi of soft and hard compositions, with micronsized debris, negligible stone retropulsion, and small shock wave pressures, we conclude that the approach is a promising candidate technique for lithotripsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number028001
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Femtosecond laser
  • Lithotripsy
  • Plasma
  • Urinary calculi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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