Mechanisms for soft-tissue ablation and the development of alternative medical lasers based on investigations with mid-infrared free-electron lasers



Experimental evidence indicating the potential biomedical advantages of using a Mark-III Free-Electron Laser (FEL) for the ablation of soft tissue were first reported in 1994. Research progress since that time is reviewed, including: 1) successful human surgery using the Mark-III FEL; 2) advances in understanding the physical mechanism for infrared tissue ablation and how these mechanistic features correlate with the preferential ablative properties; 3) the pursuit of table-top, nanosecond-pulsed laser technology that mimics the preferential ablation properties of the Mark-III FEL with the aim of improving clinical acceptance of mid-infrared laser ablation of soft tissue; and 4) current research challenges.