The potential properties of light have been uncovered in treating illness thousands of years back where the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used sunlight as a therapy. Laser medicine consists of the use of lasers in medical diagnosis, clinical treatments, therapies, such as photo rejuvenation, laser photodynamic therapy, and laser surgery. Laser stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. New ideas and instrumentation in laser medicine drive the progress in optical technology and gain ground in the understanding of the interaction of optical irradiation with tissue, especially at a macromolecular level, and by the changing needs in health care. Because lasers can offer less-invasive procedures for both diagnosis and treatment, their role in the medical field is on the rise. Laser therapy is mostly used to completely destroy or shrink tumors, polyps, or precancerous growths, relieve symptoms of cancer, and remove kidney stones. The principle of using lasers in medicine includes treating varicose veins, improving vision during eye surgery on the cornea and repairing a detached retina of the eye. Lasers are also used in medical diagnosis, treatments, or therapies, such as laser photodynamic therapy, photo rejuvenation, and laser surgery.
Types of Lasers Used in Medicine
1. CO2 lasers
2. Diode lasers
3. Dye lasers
4. Excimer lasers
5. Fiber lasers
6. Gas lasers
7. Free electron lasers
8. Semiconductor diode lasers
Lasers used explicitly in surgery are: Carbon dioxide (CO2 ) laser- This is primarily a surgical tool that converts light energy to heat which is strong enough to minimize bleeding while cutting through or vaporizing tissues. Neodymium: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG) laser and argon laser.
Mechanism of Laser Therapy
Laser therapy, a medical treatment that uses a strong beam of light to cut, burn, or destroy tissue instead of instruments for surgical procedures. Lasers are convenient and sophisticated tools that use light sources in the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared parts of the spectrum. The beam of laser penetrates the skin until it encounters a chromophore, which absorbs the laser light. After absorption of the laser, heat spontaneously generates to induce coagulation, necrosis of the targeted tissue, which further results in the removal of unwanted tissue by laser therapy. The laser light beam does not pose health risks to the patient or the medical team. There are certain existing risks for laser treatments that include pain, bleeding, and scarring during surgery. However, the recovery time from laser surgery is usually faster as compared to that in open surgery.
Lasers are used in surgeries for treating various type of cancers. It satisfies various criteria that a normal surgery cannot, such as reaching a hard to treat location, applying heat, or cutting a small area. The usage of lasers has become increasingly popular in modern medicine, as minimally invasive techniques are continually being used in the treatment of different pathologic pathways. In addition to the use of lasers in the operating room, lasers have a wide range of applications in ophthalmology, lithotripsy, the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers, as well as dermatologic and cosmetic procedures.
1. Lithotripsy: It is a widely accepted technique for the fragmentation of urinary and biliary stones for the past few years. This device is dependent on the excitation of coumarin dye to produce the monochromatic light that fragments the calculi.
2. Oncology: Lasers are currently a safer mode, used to treat cancers arising in various organs. For example, in neurosurgery, laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a preferred treatment option for patients who are not ideal surgical candidates. The introduction of lasers to neurosurgery, have become increasingly safe to use and have been successfully applied to treat unresectable gliomas and challenging hemorrhagic tumors. Direct laser ablation is commonly used for directly destroy cancer cells through its photomechanical, photochemical, and photothermal effects.
3. Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery: The distinctive ability of lasers comprises the target specific structures and layers of tissue, that makes them a powerful tool in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. In recent medicine, laser resurfacing has been used for anti-aging treatment.
4. Ablation of Conductive Pathways: Currently, the laser balloon catheter is one of the vital endoscopic ablation systems (EAS) commonly used to treat atrial fibrillations (AF).
5. Endovascular Surgery: Laser endarterectomy is a procedure by which the entire atheromatous plaque in the artery can be excised. Other applications include laser-assisted vascular anastomosis and laser assisted angioplasties.
Clinical lasers used previously were large, expensive, unreliable, and tough to operate. Currently, the lasers used in medicine are the size of a briefcase, it can be plugged into a standard power socket, and are rugged enough to be easily moved between locations for several uses. New developments in laser technology are budding out innovative applications throughout the biophotonics realm, from tumor evaluation during to ophthalmological treatments. Lasers can be modulated in wavelength, density, power, and energy; they have a wide range of applications in medicine. The beneficial effects of the newer laser models seem to have an enormous impact on medical and surgical practices.