Erbium laser ablation of hard tissue: Control of the thermal load

Steven R. Visuri, Joseph T. Walsh, Harvey A. Wigdor

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Erbium lasers can effectively cut hard biological tissues despite the limited water content of these materials. However, deposition of thermal energy into the tissue can be a concern for tissues such as teeth. It has been demonstrated in animal models that permanent damage can occur with a pulpal temperature rise of only 5 C. Therefore, it is necessary to cool such materials during the ablation process to avoid a buildup of thermal energy. An Er:YAG laser (X=2.94 .tm, 'rp=25O p.s) was used to ablate hard dental materials, such as dentin and enamel, in vitro. Temperature measurements were made by inserting a thermocouple probe at various locations within teeth. A fine stream of water flowing over the irradiation site was an effective means of cooling the teeth and did not limit the ablation rate significantly over the range of flow rates tested. Temperature rises near the ablation site were limited to less than 5 C with the water spray; temperature rises of greater than 20 C were seen with no water spray. Moderate variation in the water flow rate had a minimal effect on the temperature rise; most of the thermal energy was convected away with water flow rates as low as 5 mi/mm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Pages (from-to)130-133
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Aug 17 1994
EventLaser-Tissue Interaction V; and Ultraviolet Radiation Hazards 1994 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Jan 23 1994Jan 29 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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