Background and Purpose: Lower-pole ureteronephroscopy requires transmission of holmium: YAG energy along a deflected fiber. Current ureteroscopes are capable of high degrees of deflection, which may stress laser fibers beyond safe limits during lower-pole use. We hypothesized that optical fiber and safety measures differ among manufacturers. Materials and Methods: Small (200-273-μm) and medium-diameter (300-400-μm) Ho: YAG fibers were tested in a straight and 180° bent configuration. Energy transmission was measured by an energy detector. Fiber durability was assessed by firing the laser in sequentially tighter bending diameters. The fibers were bent to 180° with a diameter of 6 cm and run at 200- to 4000-mJ pulse energy to determine the minimum energy required to fracture the fiber. The bending diameter was decreased by 1-cm increments and testing repeated until a bending diameter of 1 cm was reached. The maximum deflection of the ACMI DUR-8E ureteroscope with each fiber in the working channel was recorded. The flow rate through the working channel of the DUR-8E was measured for each fiber. Results: The mean energy transmission differed among fibers (P < 0.001). The Lumenis SL 200 and the InnovaQuartz 400 were the best small and medium-diameter fibers, respectively, in resisting thermal breakdown (P < 0.01). The Dornier Lightguide Super 200 fractured repeatedly at a bend diameter of 2 cm and with the lowest energy (200 mJ). The other small fibers fractured only at a bend diameter of 1 cm. The Sharplan 200 and InnovaQuartz Sureflex 273T were the most flexible fibers, the Lumenis SL 365 the least. The flow rate was inversely proportional to four times the power of the diameter of the fiber. Conclusions: Optical performance and safety differ among fibers. Fibers transmit various amounts of energy to their cladding when bent. During lower-pole nephroscopy with the fiber deflected, there is a risk of fiber fracture from thermal breakdown and laser-energy transmission to the endoscope. Some available laser fibers carry a risk of ureteroscope damage.
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